It’s been difficult to separate out the good critiques from the non-constructive ones. But when several people suggest splitting my book into two parts, I think that’s reason to believe the suggestion is valid.
So after a long inner debate with myself, I chopped my story in half and started working on making the first half long enough to become a book in itself.
The revisions are endless…
The first three chapters alone took me three months to edit and plump up, like injecting a scrawny chicken with hormones.
Here are some things I learned from my critique partners.
- Using senses other than sight to describe a scene.
- Beefing up the relationships.
- Using more actions to describe how someone says something, rather than using 10,000 ways to say “said.”
- Not stating the obvious.
- Showing feelings, rather than telling.
- Not explaining irrelevant information. Let the action explain for you.
Number six, in particular, is pretty difficult for me personally. I have this tendency to over-explain things. I want the reader to know why my character has a certain power, so I tell an entire backstory within the story. Or I want to tell the reader that a trivial fact about a side character who was only important in one scene five chapters ago.
Well, no, no, no. It’s not necessary information, therefore, take it out completely. Unless it becomes important in the overall storyline and necessary for the action to propel forward, then it’s best not to waste that word count.
The work has been challenging. But when it comes to writing, I always enjoy a challenge.
I leave you with a brief snippet of my first chapter.
“Disgusting. Every child in the kingdom would run away screaming if they bumped into you.”
My sister-in-law, Fenia, cringed at the sight of me. She wobbled in, round belly first, before sitting on the side of the bed, which groaned from her weight. My future niece or nephew would be popping out any day now.
She made a gagging noise, her ebony curls bobbing on her shoulders as she shook her head distastefully. “Did something die in here? The stench is making my eyes water.”
“Thank you. I accept your compliment.” I grinned, pleased by the outcome myself. My goal was to become so repellant that the emperor’s scouts would go running in the opposite direction if they happened to be lurking.
My dark, tangled hair reached well past my shoulders, but it was so frizzled that it would make a family of gulls a very happy home. I hadn’t washed or brushed it in weeks, and the grease coating the strands was enough to become a potential fire hazard. Having doused my clothes with a concoction of my own making, I reeked of a blend of onion water and sweaty stockings. I also had used some clay, paste, and red paint to create pockets of bulging red nodules and boils on my skin.
Now I was comparable to something that had emerged from a swamp.
As a last touch to my raggedy appearance, I splashed coffee on the front of my already tattered dress and debated whether to fray the ends of the hem even more.
I turned to Fenia for her opinion, as she had used the same tactic until her twenty-first birthday, when she and my brother, Rell, were finally allowed to marry. “Do you think this is enough?”
“Hmm. Smell’s an overkill in my opinion.” Fenia pinched her nose and fanned the air with one hand as she frowned to study me a second time. Her usually soft-spoken voice came out nasally. “There may be one problem. No amount of dirt will hide your eyes, among other things.”
Her pointed look acknowledged my curvy body. My growth spurt these past few months had been unexpected…not to mention, inconvenient. Whereas I used to be awkward and thin, my scrawny figure suddenly decided to fill itself out overnight.
“It’s not as though I can control the natural aging process,” I muttered, feeling anxiety and dread tighten my stomach uncomfortably.