Being in the drawer means I'm not going to look at something for a while. See, when I'm working on it, I think something is amazing... well, actually, I go through this roller coaster ride with it. When I start out, I love it. Then I get to a point where I hate it. With Bound to Please, I also hit a point where I was so unsure of it, that I totally shelved it for months... then I dragged it back out again and was still unsure, so I sent 20,000 words to another writer for a "gut check" (thanks, Tia!!!!!) It passed muster (a light perusal to assure me that no, it wasn't awful, yes, I was on track, yes, I could probably sell it once it was done and polished.) I also submitted a couple of chapters to my critique group and got some good feedback, most of which I won't put into place until I start the first round of heavy editing.
I'm one of those who ignores the rules of not editing as I go. I read and review as I write, but the really heavy editing doesn't start until I've finished the "first" draft (which is more of a third or fourth draft). But before I can get into the "serious editing" phase, I let it sit "in the drawer".
Because in order to edit, a writer has to be able to put some distance between themselves and the word son the page. (Christine, one of my fellow critique group members, just sent out a wonderful article on the subject. Some of it was stuff I'd heard already--or figured out through trial and error, myself!)
There are a number of ways to distance yourself from what you've written. The first and most basic is time. Put your finished masterpiece in a drawer for a month and see how perfect it is when you next look at it--fair warning, it can be painful. Suddenly it's not perfect at all, it's full of glaring logic problems, plot holes, missing words... oy. Awful. But that's okay. That's what the editing round is for. Usually after I edit something to death, I put it BACK in the drawer for a little while before giving it a "final" go-over (or two, or three). This round is (or should be) far less painful. Missing words, minor leaps of logic, fuzzy sentences, inconsistencies (is her name Christie or Christi, is it Jamie or Jamey?)... that sort of thing.
Other ways to gain some distance from your writing is to change the font and font size. It sounds silly, but works. Looking at something a different type setting really helps the mistakes leap off the page and into your face--which is where you want them. (No, really, you don't want the editor--or worse yet, your readers--to see those glaring mistakes!)
Some writers like to print off their work and read it as hardy-copy. I tried that, but I really didn't like it much. Too much wasted paper. Remember, I write novel length.
There's also the old tried and true method of reading it aloud. I don't do that with the whole book, but if I've got a sentence that just isn't working, I read it aloud--taking into account punctuation--over and over until I get it right. No, not while I'm at the coffee shop. Usually. ;-D
And of course, handing it off to a trusted beta reader is invaluable. So is joining a critique group. ;-) Most groups aren't structured to read one member's entire novel length manuscript, but having your head handed to you on a platter over one chapter will certainly get you pointed in the right direction to fixing the problems in subsequent chapters! I also find that I learn a lot during other people's critiques, as I ask myself "hmmmm.... do I do that?" Critiquing other writers' work is also a great experience and helps any writer grown and become better at their craft.
So, Bound to Please is in the drawer for a bit, and I've got a new one I'm working on. This one is vaguely inspired by my job--but not on any deep and personal level, even though I have made my main protagonist (I'm writing in a single POV again--start looking for those four guys on horses, folks, Helen is embracing single character POV!) A-hem. As I was saying my main protagonist is a 30 year old waiter--or actually a waiter and a cook. He's the owner's son, Pasha (see, I said it wasn't that personal). His family is Russian (duh, the name Pasha should have given that away)--which gives me a chance to use words like "paskoodnik". I really don't know exactly what it means, I can only use it in context the same way my grandmother did. (It's an insult, but she didn't tend to swear, so I don't think it's quite as bad as calling someone an asshat, although the sentiment is about the same).
My anticipation is that it won't take too long to write; the plot is pretty straightforward, the bulk of the drama comes from family dynamics and dysfunction... although there is something going on with the older brother. My characters haven't told me what that something is yet, I just know that Alexi exists and that the immediate family hasn't seen him in a long time. He's not a spy or a member of the mob or anything dramatic on that level, but there is... something. I'm sure Pasha will tell me about his brother when he's ready. Right now, he's just happy to have met Daniel, a delivery truck driver who got lost and ended up at Pasha's dad's restaurant. Not that anybody meets Mr. Right in a restaurant parking lot, right? Heh.
Now: here's where I'm asking for some help:
I don't have so much as a working title. Anybody got any brilliant ideas? I promise some sort of cool goodie if I use your title idea, even if it only ends up being a working title. No, I have no idea what that goodie might be, I just thought it might be fun to ask, and see what kinds of suggestions I get! (There is one catch; I don't want to use the word "service" in the title; I'm planning on writing a sequel to Bound to Please that's going to be called Bound to Serve. Yeah, I know, here I am planning a sequel and I haven't even sold the first book yet! But you've gotta stay positive, right?)
So here we go, the
Your Title Here Contest:
Your Title Here Contest:
okay, so clearly, nobody's ever going to hire me to do graphic layout, but in my defense, I was kind of handicapped by the images readily available online... I do *not* recommend typing "sexy waiter" into your favorite search engine! Yuck. I mean, all right, some of the waitresses that came up were cute, but most of the waiters were either dopy looking, half naked muscle gods (not a bad thing, but not what I wanted), or just plain scary looking guys! The one with the uber mustache freaked me right out. So I settled on a celebrity and chopped off his head! At least he has Pasha's build and is probably about the right age.
Just to recap, Pasha is a cute Russian waiter, age 30, working in the family diner and not happy there. Dad doesn't know he's gay--not that he has any good romantic prospects looming on the horizan anyway...until he meets Daniel, right in his own parking lot! Daniel is a hunky delivery truck driver who hefts 160 kegs of beer for a living--and of course he's immediately smitten with Pasha. Pasha's a doll, who wouldn't be? (You'll just have to take my word on that, but it's true, he's a sweetheart). Best guestimate is that it'll run about 60,000-70,000 words and be ready to submit sometime next summer--assuming nothing unexpected happens, like I find a full time library job! If someone helps me come up with the "perfect" title, they definitely get a public thank you and some other token of my appreciation (bearing in mind that I'm a poor waitress myself, with little to offer but my love and gratitude.)
Please leave your ideas as a "comment" below. I love comments.