Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time for Celebration? Not Quite Yet by Margo Hoornstra

The other day I typed THE END on my latest work in progress. Bound by Duty is the second book in my Brothers In Blue series aimed at the 90K romantic suspense market.


It’s Done! Finished! Completed! The ended!
Does this mean it no longer is a work in progress?

Hardly. As many of you know, now the real and intensive labor begins.

But first, fresh eyes are needed. Not only that said eyes must be trained and alert, with the mind attached to them able to ferret out flaws and suggest corrections.  Is this primary character developed enough? Is that secondary character too overpowering? Is the overall concept of the story compelling and, more important, plausible? Is there too much of this or not enough of that? Is the heroine strong enough or too much so? Does the hero come across as sensitive enough or too weak? Does the narrative drag? Is the backstory information filtered in slowly and appropriately or dumped in there all in a heap?

Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe. Could be. Possibly. Perhaps.

In other words, it’s time for the tried and trusted critique partner to step in. Flutter wave to Jannine, then batting my eyes for good measure. Her job now is to answer these and other questions. Spot the defects and, thank you, Jesus, offer viable solutions. Done properly, in my humble opinion, a manuscript critique is worth its/her weight in gold.

(Oh, and just a side note. The manuscript is at about 93K, ample copy to take down a page or two should need be.)

Some authors I know wouldn’t think of sharing their work, except with their agent, editor and/or readers. Others share in wild abandon with anyone and everyone, taking any and all suggestions to heart. Ruminating on their worth and digesting them like popcorn.

So how about you, oh, others of my ilk, what’s your preference on this matter? How does your work in progress, well, progress?

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit me at  www.margohoornstra.com


13 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Congratulations on completing this phase, Diane! It is a huge step (one I need to take myself...soon). I know what a wonderful writer of romantic suspense Jannine is, so I can't imagine a better critique partner!

I haven't had a CP in a long time. I was in a local group and it was wonderful. The members write all sorts of genres, from romance to noir, so it was a wonderful blend to give feedback. My problem was finding the time to read multiple pages and come up with valid, meaningful comments. I barely have time to write much less critique others' work. But I do think if you get the right partner(s), it's invaluable.

Can't wait to hear what Jannine thinks of your new work! :-) I know I'll be looking forward to reading the finished pages once published.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ta-da! A finished manuscript is a wonderful thing to celebrate...with a small glass of wine. Sadly, the champagne comes out later. Much later. For me, anyway. I have three women who read my draft, who happen to be my book club. I've trained them how to respond to any text (that's the English teacher in me), so they approach my book in a way that's helpful to me. I use a technique I taught my students how to use....I sit and take notes (no eye contact) while the three of them discuss my book. I have a pretty good idea where they'll find fault, and sure enough, they do. I'm always pleased what they like about the book, but my focus is where the problems are. I go back and address those issues (very time-consuming), then I ship to my editor. She usually has LOTS to say, so I take another two weeks to a month to address her issues. Next I send the manuscript to an eagle-eyed friend who catches my final editing problems. She also catches some of the stuff my editor missed, like eye-color, time frame and age issues. Then it's off to the reader, who has no idea how this sausage is made and maybe is better off not knowing ;-) See, I try something new with every book...so the process, in the end is similarly painful! I wish you good luck, Margo!

Jannine Gallant said...

I hope I make your books stronger. We have a no holds barred relationship that encourages honesty--which is the only type of editing that helps. I always love the occasional "good one", "nice line" etc. but pointing out the problem spots is what improves our work. And usually what you point out are problems I feared in the back of my mind, but couldn't quite wrap my head around the specifics. Looking forward to digging into this one!

Alison Henderson said...

Poor Jannine. You and I are going to be working her like a rented mule (as OG's father from the Ozarks used to say). I just finished my WIP, too, and she has kindly offered to edit it for me. She is fantastic about seeing the flaws and holding my feet to the fire. At the same time, it will also go to my CP, who has already seen most of the first half, and my two sisters, who serve as beta readers. Good luck with your final draft! Maybe we can have a joint release day celebration.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Leah. It is a gift when you find a CP that works for and with you. Your group sounds like a great one to be in. Yes time certainly is a factor.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Rolynn - Love your have them trained comment. My mother was an English teacher, both my grandmothers were English teachers and one of my grandfathers was a teacher, then principal then superintendent. I certainly know the drill. Lucky you with a CP committee you meet with face to face (with all due respect to Jannine - we're darned near a continent apart) Isn't it true how when we feel something's a problem, most times 'they' do too. You can never have too many eyes on any one manuscript. IMHO

Margo Hoornstra said...

I think, Jannine, the no holds barred is the key. Otherwise why bother? IMHO We gotta have those 'atta girl' comments now and then, but it really is the 'um no don't think this works' ones that really, really help.

Margo Hoornstra said...

A joint release day celebration! That would be nice, Alison. Ah, rented mule or not, I'm sure Jannine's more than up to it. ;-) Ooooh! I'd like to borrow your two sisters sometime.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, and, sorry for the late replies, Everyone. My daughter just bought a new house. She hasn't moved in yet, but I got to paint the laundry room. Yay! Early bedtime tonight, let me tell you. The best part, though, my grandson helped me. Double yay!!

Lucy Kubash said...

Congrats on writing The End! Hope to be able to say the same very soon. It's a great feeling.

Margo Hoornstra said...

It is, Lucy. If I can get there there's no doubt in my mind you can too. Having read your opening, I can't wait to read the finished product!

Diane Burton said...

Congrats on finishing the 2nd book in your series. WTG, Margo! Good luck with what comes next. Stay cool.

Alicia Dean said...

Late, as always. LOL. Love the post. You always entertain. :) Congratulations!!! I'm sure Jannine is a fabulous critique partner. I have two set in stone, regular critique partners and I value their opinions greatly. Unfortunately, with my writing process, sometimes I can't use them to full capacity. I will dick around with an MS for a while and submit scenes to them here and there, then I go into panic mode where I only have a limited time before deadline, then I finish the entire thing and I sometimes don't ask them to do a rush critique, because that's just too much to ask. But,I always have someone willing to do it. :) I love Rolynn's idea of having her critique partners discuss. I might see if my group wants to try that.