It seems simple, but so many writers forget it. In fact, I was guilty of it until maybe a couple of years ago.
Getting feedback for your work is one of the most vaulable processes for making your work (novel/short story/article/flash fiction) ready for submission/publication. Without it you are, in no way, giving yourself the best chance to showcase the true potential of your writing.
When To Be A Teenage Vampire was ‘ready’ the first thing I did was start writing to publishers. I actually completely skipped the agent stage and when on to search for a publishing house who would take me on. Never mind that I was 15/16 years old and in no way ready for what that actually meant. And something that makes me cringe now was that I’d never given the piece to someone else to read. Oh I might have given it to a couple of friends from school – they wanted to read it because they were in it! – but the most I got was the correction of a couple of typos and a ‘hey, this is great! I love it! When is it going to be published?’
All very nice and encouraging, but not helpful. …sorry girls, but it wasn’t. :p
These days I’m far more aware of the need for other people to read the piece, whatever it is, and let me know what they think. To critique it. To pull it to pieces by giving me opinions on word choice, structure, strength of plot, characterisation…. Small traps that writers fall into which will bore the reader within a page of opening your tome. Things that I can’t possibly see myself because I’m too close to the writing. I can’t really let go of it.
And that’s at the core of it really. I love Silk Over Razor Blades. As you can probably tell, I’ve been working on it for so long, and there’s so much of myself in it, that I just can’t bare the thought of handing it to someone to read and being told ‘this isn’t so great,’ ‘this piece of plotting is a bit weak,’ ‘your opening couple of chapters are a little slow,’ ‘are you sure you’ve used the most powerful words here for the effect you’re trying to create’ (incidentally, these are all questions I’ve asked myself in reading the novel in recent months, not questions from other people). Its bad enough that even though I love SORB, I hate it passionately (its a complex rainbow of emotions), but to potentially get that from other people as well? Yikes!
But it needs to be done.
I’ve seen and read enough horror stories from publishers and agents through Twitter and blog entries about writing that has obvious potential, but it hasn’t been properly harnessed because the author rushed getting their work out. In fact, part of the big stigma related to self publishing and ebooks these days is that such things have made it so easy for any old ‘writer’ to publish their ‘masterpiece,’ that the quality of such novels is lacking. Its not always that case, I hasten to add, but it can be. Because these people are in such a rush to see their words in print.
I know the feeling. Reeeeeeeeeeeeally; I know the feeling.
But its not the way to go. I’ve joined a writing group where in the few months I’ve been with them, I’ve been able to scrap 37k words from SORB because they:
- Didn’t progress my plot
- Actually slowed the damn plot down
- Formed pointless digressions which will actually stand well enough on their own to make short stories or flash
- Took my characters to places which didn’t make sense for them as people
- Were just empty and pointless, offering flowery embellishment that took some of the power and strength out of what I was trying to say
I’m not so great at recognising that in listening to other people’s words yet, which is why I’m not as vocal as I want to be at these writer’s meetings, but in terms of applying my learning to my own work… its paying dividends.
SORB now, compared to this time last year (during my last freak out) is so much more ready to be seen that I should, really, be calling for beta readers.
In fact, why the hell not?!
If I don’t make myself do it… I’m going to keep hiding from it and shying away from it until it never happens. And I refuse to send this piece to any more agents/publishers before more eyes have seen the whole story.
Okay! I guess that means that I’m asking for beta readers. Is that the right phrase? People to read my 107k vampire fiction to give me their thoughts on ‘how ready I am’ to submit? Well, its the phrase I’m going to use.
Spread the word dear readers; Ileandra Young is finally ready to let go of her baby and send it out into the world, to see if its big enough to cope. ^_^