The Longstockings are a group of MG/YA authors whose names will most likely be familiar to you: Coe Booth, Daphne Grab, Lisa Greenwald, Jenny Han, Caroline Hickey, and Siobhan Vivian. Every month, they run a workshop contest and one lucky writer wins a free critique of the first 25 pages of his/her manuscript.
Guess who was the February winner? Wheee!!
So how cool was this? (Did I mention that SHUG and TYRELL are two of my favorite novels? They are!) Basically I received the equivalent of an editorial letter from them. And I've never received an editorial letter. Now I understand what Lisa, Tina, and Deena mean by how these letters can be both overwhelming and rejuvenating.
At first I had to put the letter aside. I can't redo that first chapter again, can I? How can I add stuff and also make the chapter go faster? I've only rewritten it 17 times. That's all.
But the problem was that some of their suggestions rang a faint bell in my brain. You know, the little voice that says, "You were expecting them to say something about the pacing, weren't you? You suspected that it was a problem and you were avoiding it, hoping it was good enough. But there it is in the letter and you're not surprised. So maybe you should get to work?"
Other suggestions included one I had actually considered earlier and quickly discarded. Work avoidance or instinct? I guess I can only give it a try and find out. One suggestion they gave me I hadn't considered at all, but I love it! And it wouldn't be that hard to implement, either.
My critique parters helped me tremendously with this novel, but after Chapter One revision 17, they knew the characters too well. The first impression was dead. Having professionals look at the manuscript with fresh eyes was incredibly helpful. If you feel like your critiquers know too much about your plot and characters to look at your "final" new beginning, why not enter the Longstockings workshop contest?
But I still have to take this new information one step at a time. I'm feeling overwhelmed with the idea of a big rewrite. Very overwhelmed. Even with a map.
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages