When I had written what I considered to be a brilliant first draft of my now-published book, I sent it off to a top literary agency for a manuscript critique. The editor was highly experienced, and I paid handsomely for his wisdom.
The brutal truth
I’m not going to lie, I had high hopes of him telling me that it was going to be the next big thing. That he would be handing it over to his agent friends asap, who would of course ensure that it fast became a best seller. What actually happened was a different story.
He was complimentary about my writing abilities, but he also gave me a laundry list of holes that needed to be filled. It was a tough blow, and for the first couple of days I considered ditching the entire idea of the book altogether. Then I pulled myself together, had a stern word in the mirror, and cracked on with incorporating his advice into draft number two. About six months and several drafts, later, and Become the Best You went from being a pipe dream to making the Top 50 of the Amazon best sellers chart. Not a bad self-published effort.
There was no hesitation second time around
Fast forward two years, and I had a first draft novel on my hands. I knew that it was in much better shape than my first book at the same point, as I had tinkered with it relentlessly before even considering it a first draft. I sent it off to the same editor who did a marvellous job on Become the Best You, and she gave me a brilliantly insightful manuscript critique.
She assured me that the tone was perfect, and the writing was great (phew). She also said that there were no significant plot holes (woohoo), and that I had it nailed from a continuity perspective. She said my characters are likeable and believable, and that people will be able to relate to them (yay).
She also highlighted the areas where I was doing a bit too much telling, and not enough showing. The places that needed more dialogue, and a few sections where I had switched from third person narrative to a character’s point of view (something I was unaware of doing whilst writing, and editing, although seems ridiculously obvious now). All of her comments were a revelation, and have helped me massively with writing the next draft.
I am also extremely fortunate that my dear friend, and school teacher Mel, went through the manuscript and corrected everything that was grammatically incorrect.
My beta readers have provided a constant stream of confidence boosting, and have been unbelievably supportive. I’m planning on writing a whole post about that another time.
So now I’m working on draft three. Whilst trying to find an agent. I’ll keep you posted on progress 🙂