It's been a hectic month for me and my novel. Over the course of the past couple weeks, I read my entire manuscript aloud to my incredible panel of in-house consultants. As you might deduce, this means that I successfully wrestled my novel into a state where it was fit to be read in its entirety, so yay for that. It was a near thing, with a schedule that involved revising the end on the same day that I read aloud the end. All that rush means the fact of completion hasn't quite sunk in yet. And I don't even want to toss around the word "finished," because, well, yes, my manuscript still needs more work.
The best thing about reading my entire manuscript aloud to my familial literary advisory board is that it gave me the chance to hear how the words sound and the story flows, to gauge an audience's reactions in real time, and to get detailed feedback from readers on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
The worst thing about it is of course all those same things, because I learned which parts I have problems with myself, and even more crucially, what elements didn't work for other people. This knowledge is incredibly valuable and also a bit discouraging. I wanted to think that after a few small tweaks, my manuscript would be ready to go out into the world, but now I realize that more substantial work is going to be required.
I haven't yet figured out how much further revision is in store. At the moment, I'm on the vacation that served as a powerful deadline for the work I've just completed. The time away is giving me a chance to step back from the story and contemplate how I'll approach the problems when I return. I'll be back next week with more thoughts, but for now, I'm enjoying some down time.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Eleanor Henderson writes in Poets & Writers about The Beauty of Backstory: "The world would be a bland place without backstory, and yet the story doesn't stop there. There are a thousand and one ways to use backstory in fiction--just as many ways as there are to manipulate time."