So often when our manuscripts are critiqued, we’re told that chapter two, or three, or maybe five, makes a better chapter one. But, seriously, the fourteenth chapter?
I read a quote, and wish I could remember who to credit it to, that said you don’t really know your beginning until you’ve written the ending. That may be true, but I’d written the ending to Alex Bullied and regarded my beginning as pretty solid.
In fact, I thought Alex Bullied was pretty near perfect. The story rolls along nicely, the characters are well-drawn, and the voice is entertaining. All I needed to do was persevere until I’d found the perfect agent. Or so I thought. Obviously, I had delusions of perfection.
Imagining that we are writing the Next Great American Novel keeps us going. We have to believe that our wrtiing is worth something. We have visions of agent and publisher contracts, book tours, movie sales, fame and fortune. Those are different kinds of delusions. Maybe we need those.
Then we finish. Or think we’ve finished. That would be the delusion of completion.
That is why critique groups and honest beta readers are so valuable. It’s difficult for most writers to achieve distance from their work. it’s hard not to have all sorts of delusions. Hearing that my fourteenth chapter should be my first was a blow. But they were right. Their enthusiasm at finding my diamond, my vein of gold, enthused me. I made the change. The story has a better start.
With this rewritten first chapter, I’ve submitted the first fifteen pages and one page synopsis for agents to critique for a writers’ retreat through the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. So I’ll see what they have to say. Stay tuned.
I asked my Friday group, The North County Writers Bloc, to tell me what their writing delusions are and I think you’ll get a chuckle. How many of these are yours, too?
It takes only one draft to complete a book.
It’s easy to find an agent.
Length of the book doesn’t matter.
I can do all of the proof reading necessary myself.
That someone, anyone, will actually enjoy my book.
4 thoughts on “Delusions of Perfection”
Brix: Illigitemi non carborundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Very insightful, Brix. As an editor and proofreader I can tell you that even the most rudimentary of edits improve most content immeasurably. And for those poor souls who think that one draft, or even two, is good enough, I hope they will some day, somehow be better educated.
Book length is a real challenge. As a mentor of mine said, “When you run out of story, stop writing.”
Soldier on, Brix Braveheart. Victory is over the next hill.
Go, Brix, go! I want to read your books to my grandchildren one day! (Not too soon, thank you.) XO
Hmmm, I would say that I’m delusional about people loving my book and it being unique. I also thought I could proofread it myself. Well done on taking the leap to be critiqued. It’s a huge step! I also thought my beginning was okay, but a CP of mine said, If you don’t love it, change it. And I did! Now it’s my fav scene. And I told myself, any new scene will only be acceptable if it’s my favourite new scene! *crossed fingers*