It’s been two and a half months since I read Holly Lisle’s article on One-Draft Editing.
I’ll cut right to the chase and tell you that . . . nope, I didn’t make it in one session, although I did learn some lovely new editing tricks. Those tricks helped shorten my previously protracted process, for which I am very grateful.
It took me three tries this time, and I didn’t do everything myself. After years of writing and interacting with others, here are the people I’ve found invaluable in the editing process:
In June, at WIFYR (the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference – which I highly recommend), I was able to receive feedback from my fellow work-shoppers as well as my talented instructor. They were kind but honest. They came from many walks of life and gave varied advice (from which I could pick and choose – you don’t want to take it all) that enriched and deepened my story.
People who know the story:
When I ran into critical plot issues, it helped to bounce ideas off others who understand my characters and storyline. A thousand thank you’s go out to my amazing critique group!
One member of my group read the last forty pages, and then the first forty pages in one day—in that order. (I know, she’s brilliant, and she deserves a medal!) She came back with great advice on how to make my main character’s arc stronger, make my ties between the beginning and end stronger, as well as feed in more foreshadowing.
Two new friends from WIFYR agreed to read my story. It’s a huge help to get a fresh perspective from someone who doesn’t know your story. They caught completely different things from those in my critique group, like lame lines, confusing parts (after I’ve removed sections and didn’t clean up all the ties), and questions about character motivation.
This book is a mid-grade. One of my friends had her young daughter read it, and mark the parts that worked, the words or parts that confused her, and give general feedback. It was like striking gold!
I guess, at least for me, it takes a village. And it took years to find that village, but it was worth the search. There’s just no way to produce a book of quality without help.
I know some people have a hard time finding or joining a critique group. What holds you back? What spurs you on? How did you find your village?