Progress on First Novel, Part 1

Have I mentioned that I’m writing a novel? I didn’t think so. Maybe I’ve harbored a fear that I might jinx the process if I say something. But I can’t think of a good reason not to let you, dear reader of Yours In Books, know about this major “book” thing that’s happening in my life. I’m not ready to provide you with my working title yet, let alone an excerpt,
because the manuscript is still a complete work in progress.

What I can say is that it’s a work of “cozy suspense fiction.” I’ve written the first draft and shared it with four people. The first three would be expected to tell me it’s great, and they did; and of course, I believed them. The fourth reader was an editor I paid to tell me the truth. And she did. She said it’s not ready for editing yet. To support her opinion she wrote four single-spaced typed pages of commentary, cluing me in on where I need to do more work. I got my money’s worth.

Here are the reactions I’ve experienced to the feedback, in the order I’ve experienced them:

  • This editor is so right. I knew it needed more work. But, gee, this much more work?
  • And really, what does she mean, my beloved surprise ending won’t fly? Does this editor really know what she’s talking about?
  • Yes, she does. I know she does, that’s why I hired her.
  • I can’t start revising yet because my husband and I are relocating for the summer.
  • I can’t start revising yet because I’m going to Paris!
  • I can’t start revising yet because I’m settling back into life after Paris.
  • Maybe after I make some of her other changes she’ll rethink her condemnation of the surprise ending.
  • I don’t even know where to begin revising this.
  • I guess I’ll start by inserting a bit more information about characters x and y.
  • Whew, okay, maybe I can do this after all.
  • Still don’t know about that ending, though.

So that’s where I’m at just now. Lots and lots of reworking still underway. I’m also lined up for my first writing conference, later in July (with University of Southern Maine), and this novel will be the item I’m taking with me to work on while there. I hope the novel-class leader is as good as my editor. And of course, I hope she’ll tell me my current surprise ending is a keeper. Even though I know it’s not. Well, probably not. Stay tuned.

This entry was posted in Ruminations, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Progress on First Novel, Part 1

  1. I hope, I hope…I guess, I guess…I might, I might…I can’t, I can’t — SNAP OUT OF IT!!

    • I’ve read quite a few books by writers about writing, and I’m kind of pleased that I’m acting neurotic. It seems to be a sign of future success in this business. At least, that’s the way I keep myself from worrying too much about it.

  2. Anne Jones says:

    Keep at it, Meredith, and don’t necessarily trust one editor’s opinion.

    • Thanks, Anne; I really appreciate your note. I’m attending to the pieces of feedback that feel like a good fit with what I envision the book becoming. The editor called me on quite a few items that I had suspected were problematic, so I’m attending to those parts first. Then I’ll see how other concerns feel in light of the improvements at that point. I really appreciate your encouragement. The editor was also encouraging, since she sent a follow-up email that said, among other things, “Don’t give up.” I’m not a-gonna!

  3. Pam Seastrand says:

    Here’s what I learned from some wise bosses of mine in the 90s. If someone’s saying something isn’t working, you shouldn’t just ignore it; you need to listen and consider what that person is saying. There IS some sort of problem. So perhaps there’s just a more clever way for your ending to happen. You might not need to completely ditch it, but there might be a tweak you could make somewhere somehow that would work better. And maybe during that tweak, you actually figure out that the book is supposed to end differently after all. That’s something I think Steven King often said. He didn’t really have a plan for the ending along the way. He didn’t know how his books would end until they ended.


    • Gee, whoever your bosses were, they were really smart! And I love the Stephen King reference – so true, so true. I’m finishing round one of this revision and seeing some neat things happening. Can’t wait to see what happens to the current ending. I’m trying everything I can to “tweak” before giving up, but I really appreciate the reminder that if a tweak leads to a better idea, so be it. Thanks so much, Pam!

Comments are closed.