reading time: 4 minute(s)
I decided this year to do an overhaul of my novel. At 130,000 words, it was much more meandering than I wanted it to be. This is likely a consequence of me having been working on some version of it since 2003. After a few rejections from agents (I sent it out in August 2019, got most of my responses by December), I realized I wasn’t satisfied with it and stopped sending it out.
This year I tightened up the plot considerably and created a new outline. I am still figuring out the finer plot points as I go and come up with new ideas. The goal right now is 80,000 words.
In order to motivate myself during quarantine, I decided to do an experiment, suggested by my friend Steven.
I recruited a group of alpha readers from my friends. Every week, I will send them the most recent pages I had written that week. They will send me feedback.
I started on March 30. I am now halfway to the 80,000 words. At this rate, I should finish by June 29. If I don’t, it’s whatever. I still have to edit it anyway.
- I did start with some pages in the bank, so I had somewhat of a buffer.
- I am definitely reusing the material from the original draft.
- By week four, the readers had caught up to me! So I have been just going without a safety net since then.
- By week four, I started revising what the readers had given me (the first 50 pages) for a separate writing group I am a part of.
Statistics so far
- Not sure how accurate the app Ulysses is at daily word counts.
- Some of these are words from previous drafts that I had pasted in and edited to make sense in the new plot.
Stats for Weeks 1-6
||Hours per Week
|4/20, blaze it
Thank you for agreeing to read this story. I’ll be sending updates every Monday.
I specifically want feedback on overarching plot stuff:
- Pacing and plotting (Can you follow it, are you compelled to continue reading and if not, what would draw you forward aside from being a good friend?)
- World-building (Is there too much information all at once? Not enough?)
- Characters (What is your opinion of them? Are they interesting enough to follow?)
I do also want to warn you that while some of this stuff is re-edited from previous stuff that I’ve agonized over for years, a lot of it will be brand new and therefore VERY BAD. Please keep that in mind. Writing takes a lot of drafts, but I mostly need feedback on overarching story beats and plot points.
Please do not give me feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice (unless it prevents you from understanding what is happening). That’s for later.
Please send the feedback either by making a copy of the word doc (either as a google doc, libre office doc, or word doc) with track changes, or just via email.
I don’t think of shortening the book and changing the plot as compromising my vision. Is an 80,000 word debut novel more palatable to agents, publishers, and readers than a 130,000 word debut novel? I dunno. Probably. But the book wasn’t right in the state that it was in.
The changes I made were not a complete departure from the truth of who the characters are, what they would do, and so on. It was a change of the situation they were in. Putting them in more danger and putting them in each other’s way more frequently will reveal more about the kind of people they are.