Five pages vs. the full manuscript

Revision update: Going well. I’ve been getting up early and doing about a chapter a day.

Being the only one to know the full story of my book has been driving me crazy. I think it’s good. I’m excited about it. But there’s always that little voice in the back of head telling me that I might have lost my mind. Don’t you love that little voice? Jerk!

My critique group has been reading the book, five pages every two weeks, but that’s slow going. So, I got my husband to read the full manuscript late Sunday.

There’s a huge benefit to getting people you trust to read your full manuscript. Critique groups are fabulous, but the same people don’t make it every week and a lot is forgotten over two weeks. So, in a critique group alone, you might miss great continuity notes that can only really be picked out if someone reads the whole thing. My husband pointed out descrepencies in different chapters, a few things that didn’t make perfect sense. These chapters had been read by my critique group, but without knowing what’s in the older chapters, they would never have found these problems. Also, his findings were things that made sense to me in my head because I knew backstory that wasn’t in the manuscript–another good reason to have someone else read the book.

Your spouse or significant other isn’t usually the best person for this job. Mine is a very good writer himself and will be brutally honest with me, although I do encourage him to tell me the good stuff too. 🙂 But our partners in life are often the easiest to convince to spend a few hours or so reading our work, even if they might be too lenient on us.

But writers are helpers, and we know we are all in the same boat together. Reach out to fellow writers, in your critique group or other group, and ask them if they’ll be willing to read your manuscript, offering to do the same for theirs. It definitely helps to have that second or third eye and to have it on the whole book instead of just five pages every couple of weeks.

Do you have someone who reads your work? How did you find them?

Write On!


5 Responses

  1. After my first draft, my husband and my mom read it. I expected a certain level of objectivity from my husband, who delivered, and gave great feedback while at the same time being encouraging. My mom, on the other hand was most helpful in the “This is the best thing I’ve ever read in my life” sort of way – the sort of way that (since I already had a pretty good idea that it most certainly was NOT the best thing she’d ever read in her life since it needed much more depth, development of all kinds, and tying up of loose ends) served as pure “I believe in you” encouragement.

    That’s all, so far. Just finished writing the second draft, and it’s on to some edits soon, and then I have about three people (objective, sweet husband included) lined up to read it again. I like having others read it for the same reasons you do – what I think I’ve communicated is not always what I’ve succeeded in communicating. It helps to have others ask questions and point things out.

  2. Vonna Carter says:

    My critique group recently went through a change regarding this issue. I have a great group, but reading one chapter every two weeks wasn’t working. I had completed a polished draft in early June, but by October, my critique group was only two thirds of the way through the book. At this point, they realized some flaws which required a massive rewrite. I wasn’t as devastated by the revision suggestions as I was by the time lost.

    We still only meet twice a month, but one week we will read aloud a single chapter of each of our books for the immediate gut response. For the other meeting, we email up to thirty pages ahead of time and discuss the critiques.

    When my book is completed, at least one of my critique partners will read it all the way through. Since this is a new process, the jury is still out, but so far it seems to be working.

  3. thomasjeffersonclubblog says:

    My critique partners and I have evolved into an entirely different type of critiquing. Now we send each other a synopsis, then the partial when it’s ready, and then the full when it’s completed. The traditional way of submitting a few pages every couple of weeks is confusing to all when changes are made on the earlier chapters. I can’t imagine critiquing any other way.


  4. I haven’t finished my novel-in-progress yet, The Rule of Calindria, but I already have an offer to read the book when it is done. It came because I read a lot of writer’s websites, blogged myself, got out there and wrote and discussed writing and, in the process, made friends with other writers. When I stated my goal to finish the book this year, Rabia offered to beta it for me. I will definitely be taking her up on it. (She is amazing. Her Eleni stories are some of the best I’ve read in a while.)

  5. OwlandSparrow, absolutely. We all need that “I believe in you” critique as well as the “here’s the faults” notes. It’s wonderful that your family is supporting you in this.

    Vonna, that’s a great idea with your group. I hope it goes well. Please let me know. I’d be interested in approaching my group about doing something similar.

    Wow, Anita, that’s wonderful that that system is working for you. Don’t you miss meeting with your group more regularly?

    Mega, yeah, the online community of writers is awesome. I find that writers, especially those working on books, are always willing to reach out to others and help. Congrats, and good luck with your novel.

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