Friday, August 13, 2010

But you knew that

I'm in the process of working on my latest serial for Woman's Weekly. In "Continental Drift" a young woman who lost her husband a year ago drives from New York to Los Angeles to reconnect with a group of friends from college. I found writing Part 1 easy - the words just seemed to flow as she drove through the southern US and worried about starting her life over. Part 2 was trickier as I found it difficult to introduce the old relationships in enough detail to stay within the word count (I've got 3800 words per part).

When I finished part 2, I did something I've never done -- I sent the first draft of parts 1 and 2 to the fiction editor for her feedback. Usually, I finish all the parts and do a final polish (I wouldn't call them final drafts because I know there may be revisions). But this time, I felt I needed to hear from the editor that things were working.

While I was waiting for her feedback, I tried to work on part 3. And it just wasn't happening. The words wouldn't come easily and the words that did come were the wrong ones. I told myself it was because I was hot and tired (our A/C packed it in on Monday and for two days and nights it was 91 degrees in my house), because the kids were hot and tired and cranky, because I was too busy following WriteOnCon (great experience!).

I got the feedback this morning. The editor wrote that the writing was "exquisite" (I tell you, that wonderful woman is what keeps me writing some days!) but that the plot was "unfocused." This is not what I wanted to hear, of course, but it wasn't surprising. In fact, it was obvious.

Part 3 wasn't working because I hadn't established a clear plot through 1 and 2. And I knew it. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have felt the need to send it in early. I wouldn't have had trouble finishing it. I had a hunch and, if you read what Jen at Unedited said about hunches today, you know what that means.

So has this happened to you? Have you suspected something and then your betas/critiquers/readers called you out on it?

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