As a writer friend of mine scolded, “It may be fun to chunk out novel after novel, but until you put in the work to edit, they will never go anywhere!”
So today begins the work on the novel I penned in November, during my first experience at NaNoWriMo. (For anyone who hasn’t done this, I highly recommend it; give yourself permission to write the project of your choice for 30 days–so empowering!!) It’s a young adult novel, sci-fi/fantasy, flavored with magical chords, string theory, World of Warcraft and a heroine with autism. The first draft came out remarkably well, considering the boilerpot process, but there are definitely issues to be treated.
My personal editing process is blessed by a talented critique group I met through Pennwriters. For the past several years, I have shared work for strenuous yet generous commentary that has always benefited the WIP. We are a mashup of varied bodies of knowledge; a former state trooper, a dog expert, a lawyer, a high school librarian, some students, some working, some retired–all gifted. Questions receive answers: Is this an information dump? Do you understand the character’s motivation? Is this too big a clue early in the story?
More importantly, in the exchange process, there are brainstorming moments that open the door to deeper understanding of my own work. What if your character did…? Perhaps the relationship between the girl and that boy could lead to…? What if the journey took on a more metaphoric flavor and…? I always love it when someone spots a meaningful undertone that I haven’t quite grasped, so I can coax it into the light.
Over the past six weeks, the story has settled. I’ve contemplated necessary plot modifications to improve the tale. My critique mate Jean has attacked the pages with not only red pen but black and violet as well. Bless her. (No, really, I mean it!) Each of the initial character introductions has been made to the group; the group has responded with approval. All is well. It’s time.
Wish me luck.