“The first draft of anything is s***”

Cover of "How to Write a Damn Good Novel:...
Cover via Amazon

Last Thursday (April 22), I got back a list of comments from an editor friend regarding the draft of my novel “The Ward Prince.” The feedback is brutal, as I expected.

He gave me ten suggestions for making improvements. One suggestion he imparted is to weave the voice-over narrative through my novel (rather than restricting this tone to a one-page introduction at the beginning of the novel). He also told me that I “tend to front my dialogue,” meaning I have characters speak their dialogue while doing something. My friend said that “isn’t a bad thing,” but it has become a crutch for me in my writing. My friend also said I should do something about the ending. The ending “just sucks” (his words), and it doesn’t work for him.

I’m not complaining; I’m glad I got this honest feedback. I need a swift kick in the pants. Now I can really get back to work on the manuscript — and I will relish in the re-editing process. I haven’t worked on “The Ward Prince” in a long time because I wasn’t able to get any feedback!

To get me ready for the big manuscript re-edit, I’m reading “How to Write a Damn Good Novel” by James N. Frey (not the author of “A Million Little Pieces” — which is a good read by the way; it’s a shame the author passed it off as a memoir when it’s really fiction). While my daughter was in her martial arts classes last Friday, I my novel writing skills by reading “How to Write a Damn Good Novel.” In the book, Frey drives home the concept of the premise, which a novel must prove and is based on the “three C’s”: character, conflict and conclusion. Frey also writes about the necessity of setting up the “status quo” –the way things are in the story — before the core conflict begin.

Tonight, I’ll have to scan through”The Ward Prince” based on suggestions my friend gave me. I have the first chapter of the novel posted on this blog. Go to the pages section in the right column of the blog, and click on “Chapter One” under “The Ward Prince.” Don’t click on “The Ward Prince” hyperlink itself; that’s just the synopsis.

Some of the feedback was hard to take, especially about the ending “sucking.” But I’m relieved to acknowledge those feedbacks are not a reflection of me as a bad writer, just a writer that needs to improve her work. As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.”


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