At least, that’s the way it was for me.
Getting started was the hardest part. After that, stopping was the hard part. I found that I had been thinking so long about my book, that when I actually sat down to write it, the first half or so seemed to write itself.
And the rest followed pretty quickly. But then it got hard again. Because once it’s done, you’ll most likely need to start over.
It took me about six months to write my 50,000 word middle-grade novel, and about two more years to do enough rewrites to get it in good enough shape to pitch to agents.
The main character in my book is named Skyler. When I completed my first draft, my oldest son read it. After he finished, he turned to his brother and said, “Skyler talks like mom.” Since Skyler is only twelve years old, that wasn’t a good thing. Twelve-year-olds don’t typically say things like “Why don’t we think this through?” Or “Darn it. I’ve got homework. I can’t go.”
My second draft was me writing the whole book over, starting with page one.
Editing your middle-grade or YA novel
- It’s so good, someone might steal my idea.
- People tell me I should change things, but I’m the only one who knows what’s right for my book.
- I’m afraid of rejection. What if they don’t like it? I would die if nobody liked it.
- It’s already close to perfect. I can tell. (And I should know. It’s my book.)
- My editor will edit it when I get a publisher.
Let’s pretend that all of these are good reasons to skip the part where you let friends, family and strangers (if they’re willing) tear your stuff apart. Because it is pretending. It’s a bad, bad idea to not get feedback on your book.
Solicit as many warm bodies as you can to read it. Your neighbors, your boss, your kids. Join a writer’s group. Upload your book to www.lulu.com or www.amazon.com and self-publish it. Not to sell it, but to hand a paperback to each of your readers. It will be much easier for them to read on paper than online, and they will be more likely to do it. Tell them to read it with pen-in-hand and make notes in the margins.
If you do this, I promise you will get depressed. You’ll get so many put-downs about your book, you’ll be tempted to quit. (Or you’ll find yourself wondering how people can be so stupid and that maybe you need new friends.)
And the worst? When nobody can seem to get through it. I’ve been sooo busy. But I’ll get to it. I promise. After I finish watching the last seven seasons of House in the next few weeks or so.
That’s feedback, too.
Taking a fresh look at your middle-grade or YA novel
More like a book club than a billy club.
Here’s something I find interesting. I’ve seen writers defend the way they’ve written a phrase, a paragraph or even a plot-line, even though their readers are telling the author that he or she has missed the mark. Think about that one. Is the writer going to have the opportunity to explain his or her logic to everyone who buys the book?
If you’re not writing for the reader, you’re writing for yourself. Which is OK, as long as you’re not interested in getting published.
Leave a comment! We’d love to hear how you feel when people give you feedback on your writing.