This manuscript has had so many past lives. The first draft--completed way back in 2004--was written in third-person past tense and just scraped over the 45,000 mark. I had a heroine people either loved or hated and, truthfully, a rather insipid plot. The ms did okay in competitions, but received an impressive number of rejections from agents. Four years and much tinkering later, the main and subplots are totally different, it's in first-person present tense, I hope my heroine is more sympathetic and likable, and the word count has almost doubled. Is it perfect? Probably not, but I can tell you it's a hundred times better than that first draft.
Many thanks to my critique crew, plus my agent's assistant, Beth, and an intern at WH, who all gave me invaluable advice.
A whole slew of craft books also helped me through the latest revision. Click on the links to see the Amazon reviews.
- MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER by Elizabeth Lyon. I really had to raise the stakes in my book, and Lyon's chapters on characterization and structure showed just how to do it.
- SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne & Dave King. I liked the authors' solutions to proportion problems--when you spend too much time describing minor points and skimp on the scenes that really need to be big.
- GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT by Debra Dixon. Work out each main character's goal, motivation and conflict, and you'll give your story dimension and direction. This particularly helped me when I was bogged down in that swamp known as the Saggy Middle.
- NOW WRITE! edited by Sherry Ellis. A collection of tried-and-tested exercises to whip lax writing muscles into shape.