The Revision Cave

I’ve spent the last couple of days in the Revision Cave, poring over WTRPCPSU with Julia’s notes beside me, carefully scrutinizing every sentence and often wondering how this manuscript (a) passed muster with my beta readers and critique partners, (b) how a small press could have thought it was good enough to publish, and (c) how Julia could have thought it was good enough to represent me!

I was so frustrated by my writing that it made me wonder what others could possibly be submitting. Just the idea that manuscripts out there are worse than my work makes me shudder.

I’m being hard on myself. I know that. I really am proud of my story, and I think my characters are great. I really do love these kids, and I love being able to step into their world. They are so much fun to write. But I found parts of my manuscript that made me circle entire paragraphs and write, “FIX!!!” in letters that can probably be seen from the International Space Station. I yelled at my pages (as if they’re to blame) for being inconsistent and told my husband that I don’t understand why no one questioned how Bianca would be able to see her friend’s reactions when they were sitting behind her in class.

See what I mean? I’m a hack.

[sigh] Okay, I’ll be serious. I am my own toughest critic. Of this, I am all too aware.

Anyway, I have revisions to do, and my goal is to have my first pass at them finished by Tuesday, April 9. I’d then let it rest on the 10th, reread and tweak it on the 11th, then send it to beta readers on the 12th for their perspectives.

Writer’s Digest posted a link on Twitter this morning that I’m taking to heart in soliciting new betas for this pass, and I think I will implement the following strategy in asking for betas:

  • Short survey before: I need to make sure I’m getting a good cross-section of people. I won’t do me much good if everyone reading it is in  my age bracket or in one given geographic location. I need to ensure diversity, and I can’t assure myself of that unless I ask.
  • Deadline: I also need to make sure people can read this in a week and provide feedback. Why so quick? I’m on my own (self-imposed) deadline and expect to have more changes to make after this pass. Plus, it’s a very short book and a quick read; it will probably cap out at around 65,000 words (if even that!). And in order to ensure the feedback I receive covers all the bases…
  • Short questionnaire after: I need to include a questionnaire for my betas to fill out after reading. The questions would be simple; I can even provide a 1-10 scale so they can easily pick one and provide open-ended feedback if they want. But I need to know what people think of characters, of relationships, of events. Is Character X likeable? Did Character Z behave realistically? Does Character Y come across too needy?

I’ll put out a general “Call for Betas” post as I get closer to completing my revisions.

Will I even get any betas after these requirements, and especially after the glowing reviews I’ve given my own work at the start of this post? I have no idea. But I’m willing to try.

(If you’re reading this and would be willing to be a guinea pig beta reader, please leave a comment including your email info and/or send me an email. I’ll get a survey out to you shortly. Thanks! – E)

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