21 September 2011

When you write a book…

When I put the period at the end of the last sentence in my novel, I felt elation that I will never forget. I wrote a book! I could finally move onto the next step: becoming published. Dreams of book tours and signings and royalty checks filled my mind. It was all within reach; the hard part was over. Right? Not so much.

I chose a literary agent, checked her submission guidelines, verified she was interested in my chosen genre and I wrote a killer query letter if I do say so myself. When I got a reply requesting my full manuscript I naively thought this was how the process worked. Little did I know, having the very first agent I queried ask for my entire manuscript was an amazing opportunity.

So I lovingly packed my 234-page manuscript into a small box along with the copy of her request and mailed it off. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I sent my UN-revised, UN-critiqued, UN-edited novel to a professional literary agent. Are you cringing? I hope so.

It took months to realize why I never heard back. No writer, even published writers, should ever accept their first draft as a final product. Always, always revise and have another writer critique your work.

Now when I revise a novel here are just a few of the most common errors I’m looking for as I comb through the pages:

  1. Point of view. Am I staying in the point of view I started with or am I sometimes lapsing into another? Would another point of view be better for this story?
  2. Tense. I started the novel in present tense, am I staying in present tense or lapsing into past tense?
  3. Does every scene serve a purpose? Is there any fluff I can weed out?
  4. Is my spelling and punctuation correct? 
The revising process takes time and patience but it’s well worth it. When an agent asks for my manuscript again I'll know it will be the very best I have to offer.

Stay tuned for more book & manuscript reviews. And thank you to the talented writers who are sharing their unpublished novels with me; it’s an honor and pleasure to read your work.  

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