In his book, “On Writing,” Stephen King said when he finished writing a story, he would put a physical copy of it in a drawer and forget about it for at least six weeks. This was so that he would have “fresh eyes,” when editing.
My story, sat on top of my desk for “only” three weeks, her siren call to powerful to resist. So I grabbed my red pen and started re-reading it. My brother’s assistance was instrumental during the first edit. Hell, after me, he knew the story better than anyone else. In fact, he helped out a lot while I was writing, giving me numerous style and plot ideas (I tell him every day he missed his calling in life —which he promptly reminds me that he’s still young).
The second draft came several weeks later and a third several weeks after that. Each one crisper and cleaner than the previous. In the process, I cut out over 10,000 words from the story. Then the holidays were upon us—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I lent it out to three close friends, but the timing couldn’t have been worse for them or me.
In January, I chose a handful of family members and several additional close friends to read it, hoping —nay praying— they found it interesting and compelling.
I waited patiently for their feedback. The first one came two days later. My first thought was wow, this person must have really enjoyed it to read the entire 85,000 word story in just two-days or they must have started reading it and promptly put it down because it was so unreadable. (I’ve come to discover that the doubt a writer feels in their ability to effectively “story-tell” is very, very real when you finally allow others to read your work.) Thankfully, he loved the story and wanted me to hurry-up and write another. The next six readers conveyed similar feelings. One, a published author himself, wrote the following, “If I were given this as a bound book with a cover off the shelf, I would never once question whether it was a legit writer or an amateur.” That’s not bad…right?
I now felt ready to start querying literary agents. The next step: draft a query letter and put together a synopsis. After completing an entire story you would think that would be an easy task, but let me tell you, writing a one page query and a two page synopsis is a lot harder then you might think and ended up causing me more stress than I thought possible. So in the end, I sought assistance and guidance..
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