Okay. Maybe the analogy doesn’t quite fit, but ask any writer and they’ll tell you some days feel like you’re in a boxing ring with an opponent who hits below the belt. So, when you make it through a round, it’s time to blow your horn.
Round One for me is finishing the first draft of my current novel. Manchurian Candidate meets Mission Impossible is its working title because I haven’t come up with one that fits. MCmMI is another thriller. It currently runs about 75,000 words or 300 double-spaced pages, and is version 11. That’s right, version 11.
Set aside the notion that writers are able to produce smooth, error free prose right to the printed page. Stories evolve as they are written. Some writers complete a first draft without any revisions, but my process necessitates revisions as I often make major changes as I write. For example, this book started out in first person––“I woke up when the bullet shattered my headboard,” but decided to switch to third person––“The sound of the bullet shattering the headboard woke John from a deep sleep.” There’s nothing wrong with first person. I’m just more comfortable working in third person.
Having finished this draft, I’ll go through the entire manuscript one more time (version 12) and then send it out to beta readers (see below).
Once the beta readers send back their corrections and comments, I’ll go through the manuscript one more time, reading it aloud to pick up sentences that are too professorial or too simple.
The next step after that is shop the manuscript to agents who handle thrillers in hopes one of them is ready to represent me. I think MCiMI is good enough for a traditional publisher and my writing or voice is unique enough to “pass muster,” but time will tell.
What an agent will get who represents me is an author with five positively-reviewed self-published novels and a story that I think shows another step in the progression towards master craftsman. In addition, I’ve already started writing thriller number seven. In fact, the editor of a literary magazine praised the opening chapter of TNS (Thriller Number Seven) at the Baltimore Writers Conference held November 14 at Towson U.
If, however, after a decent amount of time I’m unable to find an agent to take me on, I’ll come up with a title and self-publish MCmMI on my own. So either way those of you who have enjoyed my previous efforts, you won’t have to wait too long before you can sign up to be my second when the bell rings for the next round.
Here’s the story on Beta Readers:
I’d like a minimum of six beta readers go through the manuscript of MCmMI. I already have four lined up. That means I’ve room for two more. Here are the requirements if you’re interested and have the time:
- You must read and return the manuscript within 20 days.
- You’ll need to answer a series of questions about the characters and plot so I can gauge your reaction to the story.
- As you read, I expect you to point out possible typos and grammatical and/or spelling mistakes with a bright red marking pen.
- I also expect you to highlight possible word choice issues. For example if I write “Max stored his ice cream in his oven,” you should ask if I meant refrigerator; or if I write “The boy was being obstreperous,” you can ask whether I ought to use a more common word.
- Finally, I’d like to know if you question whether a character would do or say what I have her say. For example, if I described Mary is shy and then have her act in a decidedly unshy manner without explaining why she’s acting out of character, you should point out the contradiction.
Interested? Contact me ASAP.