Today was a pretty big day for me: I got the feedback regarding ‘The Forgotten Road’ from the Book Doctor (Freelance Editor) I hired. Jason Black (@p2p_editor on Twitter) or www.plottopunctuation.com is the man behind the report, and I must say I was very impressed.
I was a little nervous at first about having a professional look at my work. Lots of people have read various iterations of the book, but I’ve never had a trained eye looking for everything from punctuation to plot devices to point of view deviations. The report he generated was a whopping 26 pages (he admitted it was the longest he had ever written), and it is chock full of ideas and pointers to improve the story.
What I was most impressed with was the way he conveyed the suggestions without doing any damage my fragile writer’s psyche. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to get this report from a hard-nosed editor at a publishing house. One wrong word from someone without the patience and the tact that Jason has, and I would have gotten defensive and not listened to what they were saying. I didn’t feel defensive at all in reading this. I felt energized and had I not been at work when I read it (sorry boss), I would have sat down right away and started writing. I was jazzed. And the report wasn’t long because the book sucked, but because Jason saw enough promise in it that he really dove deep into it and covered a lot of very advanced ground.
This week has been a big week in general for my writing, and it seemed like I turned a corner on Monday. I felt it. I was staggering under the story I was creating with my newest novel, and unsure if I was going to be able to finish it. Then I stepped back and started writing character biographies for every character in the book, and the details I needed to complete the plot started to fill in. Motivations and fears and history and conflict all came out as I riffed (I’m stealing that excellent word from Elizabeth Lyon). The characters began to drive the plot, they weren’t just holding the name space between actions anymore.
And then today I got this report back, and I was filled once again with enthusiasm for a book that was, just a few weeks ago, not just done, but dead to me. I didn’t want to touch it. I was tired of it. Sick of it, and wanted the characters to go away. Now I want to bring them back, get to know them again, and put them into even more harms way.
I’ve got some hard choices to make in the Forgotten Road, and even though I’ve got a bunch of agents and editors who said they wanted to see it, I’m going to do the full edit, let it breathe for a while, and then edit again, and send it out. It could be Christmas before it is ready to go. But it will be ready this time, and much, much better.