I just submitted the first 85,000 words of my novel, LOST NOTES, to my trusty critique group.
Now the waiting begins–two months’ worth, in this case. We’ll meet in mid-November for my critique. In the meantime, I’ll be working on writing the final chapters.
It was hard to hit the send button. My monthly group has heard some pieces of my story, but nobody’s really read it. Until now. How do you know when a manuscript is really done? Or, in this case, done enough for others to read?
I keep reminding myself that this is a first draft. No matter how many times I go through the manuscript looking for skipped commas or missing quotation marks, that’s not the kind of thing that matters at this early stage. I want to know if the story’s working. If the historical voice is too loud. Whether my protagonist Henri, the fainting pimp, has stepped onto the page in proper fashion during my year-long process of getting to know him.
My goal is to finish this first draft in December. Now that I’ve turned in those 85,000 words, I can start moving forward with new scenes again. Most likely, I’ll incorporate the advice and opinions I receive in November into whatever part of the writing I have left, then I’ll turn around and start on an official draft two in early 2012–armed with those suggestions and my own sense of the story as a completed manuscript.
We’ve discussed critique circles here in the past, but today, because I’m feeling a little nervous, I’d love to hear some positive stories about how groups, writing classes or beta readers have influenced your work. (You’re welcome to tell me your negative stories, too, but I’m hoping for positivity, since I just hit that send button.)