I finished my book about two weeks ago.
I am sorry to say that it is terrible.
When I started writing, I had an eight-page outline that I followed to help inform my plot. What I did not have, and apparently desperately needed, was to have taken the time to complete characterization and conflict exercises.
As I read the manuscript, I realized it was missing a lot, but I wasn’t sure where to turn. I also wasn’t sure if it was salvageable.
But let me back up.
Once I had typed “The End” (which I actually typed, and yes, it was very satisfying), I decided to send out an email to some freelance book editors to get a sense of what it would cost to have someone work on this book with me and help guide me. In life, it is always helpful to have a mentor and when writing a book I knew I’d need someone who understood the process better than I.
One editor, Kelly Hartog, offered to read the first five pages and just from her critique, I learned more than I had learned in the entire process of trying to write this book.
Here are a few main points Kelly helped me realize:
- There really isn’t much at stake in the book. I don’t do a good job of finding a conflict that is going to want to make readers turn the page.
- Liz, my protagonist, is not fully developed. Sure, she wants romance, but that can’t be her only need/want in life. I need to give her something beyond that.
- I need to establish, within my first chapter, who Liz is, what she wants, and then I need to turn her world upside down.
So, now that I have this knowledge, what to do?
On one hand, I could throw in the towel. I obviously have a lot to learn and to do so will take time, effort, and an alarming amount of brain power. And whose to say that even after all that I will even have the chops to write something that is worthy of being read by anyone other than me and someone I pay?
But, I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. First, I am going to do what I should have done in the first place and learn.
There are books to be read and workshops to take, and as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
So apparently I am not a natural romance writing talent. That doesn’t mean that I can’t become one if I am willing to put in the effort.
To that vain, Kelly recommended two books to me.
Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon
Story Genius by Lisa Cron
I bought both and can’t wait to devour them.
This journey is a long one and I am excited to keep trucking along to see exactly what I am capable of accomplishing.