This is usually where I apologize for not posting, but I’m not even going to go there today. I am but moments away from finishing my NaNo novel, California Girl. This baby’s come a long way, and the title doesn’t fit anymore. It’s been bothering me a lot lately, that ill-fitting title. I’m not sure what the new title will be.
I wish my only pastime these past couple of days was spending lovely hours immersed in my novel, but alas, that’s not so. I’ve also been working on the novel of the person who inspired my crit partner rant. It hasn’t been an easy task, and I’m becoming more and more frustrated.
The novel and its writer are not ready for the critiquing stage.
When I began with the first chapter, I wrote very detailed notes about every page, every paragraph, every sentence, every comma. I was nitpicky as all get out, determined to be thorough, helpful, and positive.
But as the chapters progressed, mistakes built upon mistakes. Things that were little issues in the first few chapters are now major structural issues. There’s no point in me noting anything anymore. This novel doesn’t need to be edited. It needs to be rewritten.
Writing is rewriting.
I love this phrase. The more time I spend rewriting, the more I realize it’s true. It took me two or three months to write Summer Rush. I’ve been rewriting and then editing for going on eight months, and I’m still not to the final critiquing stage.
I’m not a standard for everyone, but it’s safe to say rewriting and editing make up a hefty chunk of the time that goes into creating a publish-worthy novel. Once you complete a first draft, the real work begins. You have to get your building blocks in place, like interesting characters, a coherent timeline, and realistic setting.
I’m going to use the age-old example of building a house and say you must have a firm foundation and good framework before you worry about cosmetic things like paint color or furniture.
When I first started editing, I was seriously guilty of this. I spent hours of time, and my critique partner B spent a good amount of her time, fine-tuning my chapter one – the chapter I ended up tossing entirely. It was a complete waste of time and effort.
Ask yourself, how good is my novel, really? Are you proud of it? Is it the best that you can make it? Don’t send it to your betas yet if you know you’ll be cutting out a character, rewriting the ending, or changing your setting from California to the Arctic Circle.
If you still have major changes to make, you’re not done rewriting, and it is not time to edit.
Editing, which is what your critique partner will be doing, comes after rewriting. Your partner can’t rewrite for you; only you can do that. If you hand over a novel that still needs to be rewritten, all the critter can do is point out mistakes and offer suggestions on how to fix them. You still have to fix the mistakes yourself.
Right now, with this novel, I’m biting my nails and scratching my head. The writer I’m working with isn’t going to understand if I tell him to go back to square one. He sees no issues with his novel other than grammar, and I’m having a tough time illustrating my point because he insists everything is part of his grand plan.
I’m a little stuck right now. He’s nowhere near the stage he thinks he’s at, and he doesn’t want to acknowledge any issues. But after our initial wariness, he’s been nothing but nice. Am I hitting my head against a brick wall with this guy? I need some advice!