Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pleasant, but Minimally Useful

I was hoping my first reader could point me to the extant problems in the manuscript, but her first response was "I want to hang with Len!"

Which means I succeeded reasonably well in conveying my protagonist's personality, but that doesn't surprise me much. Since it was first person, all I had to do was channel her voice and she took care of the rest. Len's a good character and I don't even feel self-conscious about saying so, since I have no sense of having invented her. Sometimes while working out the plot I worried that she's too reactive, but "reactive" and "passive" are not the same thing, and during the writing the concern always fell away. Len is not in control of her life - who is? - but she is an active agent in it. She can't change the world, but she can find a place in it that doesn't violate her sense of self. And if somebody wants to sneer at her for how she treats her horse, well, that's no skin off her nose.

My reader volunteered to give it another go now that she knows how it ends and can read more critically. Maybe she can at least help with the title. With some poking and prodding I got her to admit that maybe some of the travel could still be tightened up and that she did sometimes think "Oh, they're eating again." I'm afraid Len takes a lively interest in food; but you do when you live an outdoor life like hers. So that's something I can pick away at, anyhow.

I really should give this to another author, but I'm not in a critique group and the person I would naturally give this to is presently swamped. I'm disinclined to join a critique group because I can't see doing it as a regular thing to works-in-progress. I'm happy to mark up my friends' drafts and hand over my own for inspection, but it's generally the big picture I need help with and can offer the most useful feedback for. It's way too easy, reading bits and pieces, to offer too much and unconsciously try to steer your friend into trying to write like you and vice versa.

(We have floor tiles in the bath and mudrooms, and most of the tile wainscot in the downstairs powder room. Cats don't like tilers - they use power saws.)

No comments:

Post a Comment