Ever get something on paper and think to yourself…hmm, something’s not quite right? I know I do. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. You’re right. Something isn’t right. Maybe you’re thinking the piece you’ve written is a bit drab. You’re right, it is. Or perhaps you’re wondering if the flow is off. Probably is.
Let me share some questions I had when I submitted my very first chapter for critique October 2009.
1. I have three chapters of back story before the hero and heroine meet. Is that okay?
2. The prologue – keep it or trash it?
3. Is it appropriate for the hero to have sex in the novel with someone else other than the heroine before they meet? (side question) not that my hero does, but what about after they meet…can romance novels have cheaters?
4. What do you think of my hero? I think he’s arrogant and a bit of a jerk. In fact, he even rubs me a little the wrong way at the start of the novel. Is that okay if there is a lot of character growth throughout the book?
5. Do these two chapters drag or do they keep your attention from start to finish? Do I have information dumps that make your eyes glaze over?
I asked these questions because my inner voice was telling me to stop, don’t do it! Please Reena, please fix this mess. But I didn’t want to believe her because I wanted to do things my own way. But that’s okay, cause the critters told me exactly what I needed to hear.
2) trash it
3a) maybe, but you’re really setting your book up for rejection 3b) have you lost your sorry mind?
4) I hate him. He is a jerk, and I wouldn’t even bother reading the next chapter…that’s if I could get through the first paragraph.
5) <snore> Hmm? Did you say something?
Now this post isn’t meant to discourage you. It’s to enlighten you. If you think something is off about your current work, chances are, it is. Listen to that inner voice. Think of it as your own personal critter offering to critique your work without having to offer something in return. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.
Maybe you told yourself the issue is minor, no one will notice or care. If you don’t believe your inner voice, send your work in for critiques. I can almost guarantee it’ll be like the critter is in your head. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” Eventually you see you can be your own critter in many ways. Thing is, if they find all the easy stuff you found, they might overlook the complex stuff you’ve missed.
So just do yourself a favor and address those issues your inner critter brings to your attention, then let the critters nitpick all the stuff you’d never would have found.