Back in June I was fortunate to win two agent reviews through Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetic Research. Nathan Bransford and Alex Glass are generous enough to donate their time to this note worthy cause.
At the time I had a full manuscript that I thought needed a little tweaking. But in my gut, I knew the problem was larger, a latent disease. So I let it fester (i.e. I didn't touch it).
I commute one and a half hours three days a week to practice optometry (I always wonder why they call it "practice" it makes it sound like I'm performing wicket experiments on my patient's eyeballs). During these car rides I listened to some compellingly awesome young adult novels: Life As We Knew It, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, Airman (I don't think this one is YA, but its' soooooo good), A Great and Terrible Beauty. And then of course I've read the Twilight Series and some of Allyson Noel's Immortal Series. I'm also a big fan of Christopher Paolini, but his work is more reminiscent of Tolkien than contemporary YA.
All these novels are fantastic. And why? Because they have intriguing pacing, characters that you end up knowing better than yourself, and riveting moments that steal your breath.
So I decided to go back to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing. When I broke the news to my circle of readers (Danny, Priya, Namita, Alex D, Aunt Barbara, Jen, Catherine, Rashi) those that had read the full contested with varying degrees of "But Why!?!" And I explained to them that its for the better. I tried pointing out the weak spots: the plot is flawed, the characters aren't developed, trite plot elements, poor pacing... They weren't really convinced. I'm so amazingly lucky to have such supportive circle of family and friends- that they feel so strongly about my work. And even though my full manuscript was by no means a first draft (more like the infinitieth) I still knew I could do better.
At the end of the audio book A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray talks about how she wrote it first, and then re-wrote the whole thing again.
To this date, I've re-written 38 pages. I think its better. But how does one ever really know.