Like most writers I know, I’m cursed with inherent self-doubt. I’m delighted and humbled when readers enjoy my work, there is no greater feeling for an author than a message from a reader telling you how much they’ve enjoyed a story, but every time I open a new document in Word and start a new manuscript I wonder whether I can do it again. A novel is a huge undertaking. Experience has shown me that I can write the requisite 90,000 words, bring a story together and get over that halfway mark when my mind goes blank and my brain wanders. But making it work, pulling it all together, AND aiming to produce something better each time – that is a challenge.
Last weekend I completed the first draft of the new book. It’s rather shoddy at the moment. There are gaps that stick out like cold sores throughout the manuscript, the writing needs tightening, more research is required in places and some of the characters require a polish. But finally I have the foundations of a framework to work with.
I printed it out, all 175 single-lined pages. For some reason reading from a different format (paper as opposed to screen) helps me to pick out errors and typos that I skim over on the screen, and also potential plot holes and character traits that need work. I shall work through the script myself addressing these points, before I seek other opinions on the story. My first beta-reader is my long-suffering husband (who is my harshest critic) – he’ll go through the book to ensure I haven’t left any loose threads hanging.
I admit I have to steer clear of him during this time. The temptation to lean over his shoulder, watch his facial expressions, focus on his body language and gauge what he’s making of the story is pretty overwhelming.
Also, this forthcoming week I’m taking a trip to the local fire station to check on the some final points of research which should be interesting. Since the appointment was confirmed a few days ago, I’ve been debating with friends on Twitter whether or not they’ll let me slide down the pole. I do hope so!
But for now, I’ll go back to that sweet taste of anticipation, sprinkled with a little fear, until my first reader completes his task. How do you review your work? Do you print it out, send it to your Kindle or other device? Do you use beta readers? I’d love to hear your views. Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or leave a message here.