Lately, I’ve been in one of those funks. My nonfiction is solid. I know this, but I’ve been having serious doubts about my fiction.
As in, maybe I should just abandon the whole project. Fortunately, we had a critique group meeting coming up and I asked them to read my manuscript. Maybe they could tell me what was wrong.
“I know the first half is bad,” I said. “Maybe I should just get rid of it.”
Fortunately, I’ve got a really solid group and they will tell me what they think. Usually, this means that I hand them something I think is fabulous and they point out the flaws. This time I handed them something I was certain was seriously flawed and got a pleasant surprise.
After telling me that she trusted me to handle the “bad news,” Stephanie proceeded to tell me what I had done wrong. She may have thought she was delivering sorrowful news, but I was elated. Sure, I’d have to rewrite a couple of chapters and change the relationship between some of the characters, but that wasn’t so bad. Not when I thought I’d have to completely rewrite half the book.
The problems everyone spotted threw the balance off early in the story. Addressing them will fix a lot.
We invest so much in our work that it is often hard to evaluate it ourselves. A trusted reading buddy is an invaluable asset, not only because they’ll tell you when your work isn’t as good as you think it is, but also because they will tell you when it is better.