The Crits Are In!

Mostly, anyways. I have one more to come in from a member of the group, which I will get sometime next week or so. But I have three total critiques on my novel, THE LAST WITCH. Time to take a good look at the old novel.

Mixed bag. Lots of interesting feedback. They liked my description, liked the broad strokes of the plot, but wanted to see more conflict between the main character and her mentor and a better understanding of the villain. A tricky thing, as it is essentially a YA in first person. Loose threads and unfulfilled promises, the regular ruin of a first draft. For BLOOD, I will revise before I send it out; I’m like a chef that sends out an unfired steak. Bless patient and willing critiquers! It was all good, all useful.

The big thing that came out of it are the two fundamental questions that I keep coming back to: is it worth editing, and is it worth submitting?

Got a yes on the “worth editing” part. They all enjoyed the story well enough, and thought it worth revising.

But the selling part … Not so much. The two people who gave me the critiques are both YA readers, and I asked them, “is this novel different enough to stand out in the market and find a buyer?” That’s where I got the polite silence.

This is something I already knew so it was good to get that feedback. Nice having the “not crazy” reaffirmed. Young person learns that magic is real, is taught by kooky mentor and then has to fight the bad guy. This is a very familiar plot. Yes, the is the telling of it is where it comes to life. But the selling of it has to come first and I’m not sure if it would.

And, not go crazy here, but let’s say it sold? Suddenly I’m stuck writing YA, a genre/market that I am not well versed in. Sure, who wouldn’t want to be stuck like that? I suppose. And perhaps it’s just fear talking. But I really think that the current WIP has a better shot at being marketable and would be in a genre that I read often and that I would want to continue in.

Not that I don’t love LAST WITCH. Not that I don’t have ideas on how to fix it. Not that I didn’t geek out last night about a new detail that I could add. Not that I don’t see a possible future for other stories. I did sort of leave it wide open to the next book. But just cause I wrote it doesn’t mean its worth publishing.

So, this is the plan: finish BLOOD by the end of NaNoWriMo. I will have a meaty first draft of what I think might be my first real workable, publishable novel. But December I will set aside for revising LAST WITCH. I’ll return to BLOOD in January, but December will be my editing training-wheels month.

It’s like when I wrote my thesis, or even my first (ridiculously unpublishable) novel — once I wrote one, even a crappy one, I knew how to write a better one. The next book was better and I think the third will be leaps and bounds better. The same is probably true for editing. I’ll cut my editor’s pencils on LAST WITCH so I can go to BLOOD knowing how to do it right.

Anywho, still digesting. I have a mountain of paper to go through.

Just how I like it.

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