So Monday I sent out the first 70,000 words of Southern Discomfort to my beta-readers. And then I set down to finish it. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not that I didn’t know how the personal arcs would end, but getting the actual defeat of Gwalchmai plotted and choreographed was really difficult.
To my surprise, having a deadline — there wouldn’t be much point in recruiting nearly a dozen beta readers if I didn’t have an ending — seemed to open the floodgates. I pounded to the finish relatively efficiently and hopefully it’s decent for what in many sections is a first draft. I opted to drop the epilogue I had in mind, which would have followed up on the cast two years later. I think that was the right choice, but I’ll probably find out next month. I’ll be hosting my beta readers, or as many as can make it, for a critique dinner the weekend before Thanksgiving: I provide them with food, they provide me with feedback. It’s how our group usually handles critiquing novels, although a lot of us will critique each others’ books even without that incentive. We’re pretty cool.
I’ve already got like twenty ideas or changes I need to work into the next draft. I’m sure after the dinner, I’ll have more.
Other than that, not much done, but hey, I think finally getting this draft polished is accomplishment enough.
•I now have most of the text of Martinis, Girls and Guns rewritten and finalized.
•I read Oh the Places You’ll Go to the writing group Tuesday and got more than I bargained for. The general take was that they loved the concept, but not much the execution, which is what I needed to hear. They brought up many questions about my premise that I hadn’t even considered; I suspect Liz was right when she said I can either execute this with no explanation at all or an elaborate explanation that covers everything, and I’ve fallen between them. When I do the next draft I think I’ll head to No Explanation.
There were several calls for me to make this much longer, even novel-length, which I hadn’t expected to hear. I’d prefer to stick with short story — it’s so good to get a short project turned around and out in the world while I’m working on big ones — but I’ll think about it when I review all the feedback. As usual after a critique, I’ll leave it a couple of weeks to simmer in my head before I take it up again.
And that was it. I’m looking forward to having a wider variety of projects while Southern Discomforts lies fallow, though I’m not sure what they’ll be yet. But I am very, very, very, very, very happy this draft has been put to bed at last.