Last night I got to hear what the writers in my group thought about the first four chapters of After Christmas Eve. Before I tell you what they said, I have to give you a little back story. Otherwise, this would be a three sentence post, and you know me better than that.
Every word counts, but the beginning of any book is especially important. It needs to lure the reader in and give him or her a reason to keep turning the page. The first 5,000 words of Until Thanksgiving, then known as Addicted, went through the group four times before I got it right.
Last night, the first four chapters of After Christmas Eve got a thumbs up from everyone at the table. They said the chapters were fine the way they were, but offered some suggestions for tightening things up. I was thrilled.
The biggest challenge of belonging to a critique group is deciding what to do with all the feedback. Points on which everyone agrees get my attention first. This time, there weren’t any negative points of agreement to address. This, dear readers, is a first for moi.
A lot of suggestions are little things that one writer or another picks up. Most of these are wording changes, but sometimes they’re about larger issues. If I like the suggestion, I’ll go with it. If not, well, that nobody else said anything tells me I can probably ignore it.
Most of the suggestions are quick and easy changes. Cut a word or two from this sentence, rearrange a few words, swap these sentences around. Unless I’ve got a good reason not to, I tend to accept just about all of these.
If I’m not sure or the change involves a lot of work, I’ll just highlight the text in question and come back to it later. I marked three spots after last night’s comments that I haven’t decided about yet. Two are single words–should I delete them or keep them in?
The rest of the comments came down to suggestions for improving two scenes. I spent the morning revising them. The changes I ended up making have resulted in a very strong beginning for my new book.
The next 5000 words, through the end of Chapter 8, are ready. The submission deadline is Wednesday. I’ve learned from experience to wait until the last minute, in case I decide to change things up.
I’ve written another 2,500 words beyond that–into Chapter 11. But I had to stop writing. I’ve run into a bit of a dilemma.
I want to change something that’s in Until Thanksgiving. It’s a minor thing as far as that book goes–but it really needs to happen to make this book more interesting. Making the change means redoing the chapter descriptions from this point to the end. I’m okay with that. I’d rather redo the chapter descriptions than rewrite finished chapters.
Hopefully, I can redo the chapter outline in a few hours–when I can find the time. Then I’ll be able to go back to the writing. I’m ready for Wednesday’s submission deadline. And that’s what’s important today here in…
My Glass House