By Nichole Giles
The other night I did something I’ve been working toward for eighteen months. I finished my work in progress. That isn’t to say that I don’t have four more in the works, but that the biggest, most major project I’ve ever taken on, is finished.
Well, okay. I realize it’s entirely likely that I’ll end up doing three or four more edits if and when I actually sell it—but for now, it’s done enough that I’m ready to write the synopsis and start the submission process.
I knew I was getting close, so I stayed up until 1:00 am, and when I was finished, sent a copy to my alpha-reader—my fifteen-year-old son. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
My copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing” sat on the shelf for two or three months until I got around to reading it. But once I started, I found the story—though nonfiction—so compelling that I flew through the majority of it in a matter of days.
In his book, King discusses a valid point, asking who—besides ourselves—we are writing to please. Who is the first person to whom you will send your manuscript the minute it’s finished? For him, it’s his wife. And because he knows she will be the first one to read it, certain scenes and conversations become reality because he aims to please the person he calls his alpha-reader. Even still, she has plenty of criticism for him, and that’s as it should be between an author and alpha-reader.
King also talks about the ten percent rule. After he has finished his manuscript—writing without editing—he automatically plans to cut out ten percent in the edits. By my calculations, I’ve cut approximately twenty percent. Not quite as much as I wanted, but a significant number of words. I now feel like my manuscript is much stronger because of the adjustments.
As I prepare to bundle my baby and send it away, I’ll take comfort in the knowledge that even Stephen King gathered a large collection of rejections before he made a big sale. I’m about to dive into writing my synopsis, and then I hope to get submitting. Wish me luck and cross your fingers.