I was looking for feedback, and I found it in the harsh but effective way.
I talked to someone who understands Donald Maas techniques. Mr. Maas is a literary agent who works diligently to help writers improve their fiction so that they can have a successful career. As a literary agent, if he helps people become better writers, he develops the market for readers, and ultimately helps himself sell more books.
I read his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, a few years ago, and I thought I had it figured out. I thought I learned the lessons and had integrated the techniques into my process. I was very wrong.
I attended a workshop by Mr. Maas, and realized that I had NOT integrated the techniques. I just barely understood them.
I next found someone who DID understand the techniques, and was willing to review my manuscript and offer feedback. Holy mackerel, but did I ever get a bargain. I was given notes about each and every chapter, and about how the main characters needed to process their emotions, and how the emotional impact of the the characters needed to be conveyed in each scene.
For the past month, I’ve been working through those notes, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, rewriting the entire manuscript. The story is transforming into something very different, but much, much better. There is greater drama with every scene, the plot events are more tightly integrated with the full cast of characters, and those characters now struggle at every turn to achieve their goals.
I am just over half way through my planned rewrite. The kicker is that this is actually fun. It’s enjoyable to rewrite when the notes are specific and on point. It’s making the story better, intensifying the drama, and I’m convinced will make it a much more enjoyable story.