Ok, so I have been working with a few volunteer readers (who are also writers) to polish my book. One of them has done the first two chapters, and I’ve made some great changes. I decided to post the updated versions (also the versions here) on a writers forum and see what kind of response I got. I’ve had about ten or eleven people respond — and here’s the strange part. Some of them absolutely love the writing style, the dialogue, etc., and some of them hate it. It’s just so strange to see two such contrasting viewpoints. I know, I know, everyone isn’t going to like it, but I was just a little surprised at how different the opinions were. Hopefully, I can be happy about those who loved it, and glean something useful out of the comments from those who don’t. Anyway, if you happen to see a new version of the prologue or chapter 1 appear at any moment, don’t be surprised.
So, to continue with my writing saga…
After I got the idea for the story, I started writing. I kept taking notes on various scraps of paper (I didn’t want to forget any great ideas as they came), and just kept typing. I didn’t even write the first book in order — at all. In fact, some of my favorite scenes were written during the first month of my writing. I would be laying in bed at night or doing dishes, or whatever, and suddenly I’d have this great line of dialogue come into my head and a whole scene would be born.
Surprising to even myself, the (very, very) rough draft was complete in about four months. And believe me, it was rough. Then I wanted someone’s opinion, so I emailed it to my sister to read. Now, a lot of credit goes to her for seeing the story through all the mess. She didn’t have any names of people or places, no title, and no tag lines for the dialogue, and yet she still liked the story.
So then I had to start cleaning it up. I had to come up with names for all my characters and cities (some of which changed), and I had to add all the descriptive dialogue terms that make the story come to life. I must admit, this part of the writing process isn’t my favorite, it’s just a lot of work cleaning up details. But it had to be done, so I did it.
I finally felt I had a version that was at least workable, and I got really brave and gave it to a few of my friends. I waited nervously while they read it, hoping it wasn’t absolutely terrible, or boring, or whatever. And, guess what, they loved it! (One of my teenage readers even told me she liked it better than “Twilight.” Now, even I wouldn’t go that far, but when other readers told me the same thing, I thought maybe getting published was a possibility.)
After getting such great feedback, I decided I really needed to put some detail work in. I checked all my punctuation and grammar rules and proof read who knows how many times before I finally thought it was pretty polished — or at least an agent wouldn’t send it back because the commas were all out of whack. Then I had my mom read it (she’s great with critiquing), and she worked over the portions that didn’t flow well or where the language just wasn’t right. And she fixed a lot.
When I was done with all of this, I knew I had to take the next step. I had to get a few other writers to weight in. Talk about scary. To put something out there you’ve worked so hard on, knowing you want critiques, but also knowing that they would be harsh, was a bit intimidating. Next post, I’ll tell you what I learned.
I’ve had a few people ask why I wanted to write a book in the first place. Well, the answer has to be: Because I love to read. For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve thought it would be so cool to write my own book. However, I never had a good idea. I’ve always had a few small things floating around in my head, but they’ve never been enough, just snippets of scenes here and there.
So instead of writing, I just continued reading. And then a year ago I read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Now, I’m not saying this inspired me to write, but the story on her webpage did. On that page, Stephenie talks about how she had never written a book before, but she had a great idea and she couldn’t keep from putting it on paper. She goes through her entire process of getting an agent and finding a publisher. It was good to know that it’s possible.
But I still didn’t have an idea. And then one night last July, I was rocking Anthony to sleep and thinking, and suddenly I had two different scenes pop into my head. For the next few weeks I kept thinking about them and possible places they could go. Those two scenes became the basis for the prologue and chapter one of my book.
From there, it just grew until I had a trilogy all mapped out in my head. And I have to admit, I love my story. Now I just have to find an agent who does.