Yes, the title was a shameless attention-getting ploy. Sue me.
Kidding aside, the naked feeling of showing your work to Others is undeniable. After months of closeted safety, your private thing is no longer private. Or, rather, it’s still QUITE private, but is now in semi-public view. Even if you have been writing with an audience in mind all along, the experience is not to be had without trepidation.
Which is a longish way of saying that early segments of The Novel have been released to readers.
How long has it been under wraps, prudishly hiding its shame? Well, early work started in February of this year, following the Snowflake Method. I’ll have more to say about this approach at another time, but suffice it now to say that the steps Randy Ingermanson leads you through are exhaustive and can be exhausting, especially if you have distractions in your life…like a family, a day job…you know. By early May I had all of the plotlines, character sketches, summaries and scenes done, and began drafting. Five short months later, the first draft was about 75% done, and it was time to get some feedback.
So, I polished up the Prologue and the first two chapters, and hit up a handful of friends to take a look. Some are scholars. Some are not. Some are producers of creative fiction, others just consumers. I chose the mix on purpose, being interested in how people of differing backgrounds would respond to my work.
So far the results have been gratifying and enlightening. Two of the four readers have provided comments, and I’m meeting with a third for lunch this Friday to talk it over (leaving one miscreant ne’er-do-well to step up his game. Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU!). The short of what I’ve learned, though, is that Yes, the main character and his story holds the reader’s interest, and, Yes, my prose is lively enough to do the same. I’ve also gotten some good substantive and stylistic suggestions that have improved the end product. Which, of course, is the whole point of exposing your work to the light of day.
In future posts I’ll open up a bit more about some specifics of what I’ve learned from this process. And maybe even flash a little text on the screen.
Yes, that’s what we call a tease.
A Query: I’d love to hear how other writers handle the review/feedback process.