Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Verdict

Yesterday the Athens Writer's group met. Since we meet on the first and third Saturdays of each month, everyone had three weeks to prepare. At long last, Glass Houses made it to the agenda for discussion.

To my surprise and delight, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The group really liked the story and offered some very constructive criticism. As anyone who has read the manuscript knows, they also felt like they really got to know me.

One of the bigger problems they pointed out I've heard many times before. Except for my family, readers have trouble keeping up with all the people. The group suggested cutting out and/or combining some of the less important characters. It's a great idea that would be a lot easier if they weren't real people who played significant roles in my life.

The group also pointed out specific problems; some I knew about, others were new to me. What I considered to be foreshadowing sometimes went too far. There are also lots of times when I confuse the reader bouncing back and forth between a specific occasion and what was typical for that occasion in other years. I get what they're saying and agree.

I also tend to treat minor and significant events the same. This equal treatment makes the turning point of the book (my discussion with Aunt Judy) fade into the background rather than stand out as the pivotal moment it was. They would like to see me spend more time writing about my feelings and reactions to some of the most important events--especially coming out. Again, I completely agree.

The final recommendation was to submit the manuscript 5000 words at a time for discussion by the group to enable more specific suggestions for how to resolve these issues. At two meetings per month, it would take eleven months to get through the 110,000 word manuscript. Everyone agreed spending the time would help me turn a good read into a great read.

Again, I agree. However, I'm reluctant to follow this advice because Glass Houses is currently being considered by a publisher. Given the publisher's promise to have at least two editors review every manuscript, I remain optimistic about my chances of getting a contract.

Until I hear back from the publisher, I'm not doing anything with Glass Houses. If accepted for publication, the publisher will have their own suggestions for edits that may or may not align with suggestions from the group. If that were to happen I'd feel like very busy people had wasted time they could have spent on their own manuscripts.

The bottom line is that my time for writing is limited. Unless and until something changes (i.e., I get a rejection or a contract), mentally I'm done with Glass Houses. I'd rather spend my writing time working on the next manuscript, including sending it to the group 5000 words at a time. It's a gamble, but one I'm willing to take. Besides, taking big risks is nothing new for...

The Crotchety Old Man

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