Like most lovers of young adult fiction, the Twilight series was a turning point in my reading career. I was far from being a teen (27 years old when I read the first book) but I easily and quickly fell into the unique fantasy world that Stephenie Meyer created.
Some say that she broke the ground for all YA that followed. Others criticize the series on various levels, from the characters (is Bella really a YA heroine for girls to look up to?) and the writing style (something that is very subjective), to the story line (does Bella deserve either of them, really?). A pre-writer me was an admitted Twi-hard. I remember squeeing at midnight, unable to stop turning the pages even though I had to be up at 6am to work a 12 hr ER shift. Now, after writing my own work, learning the craft (I will admit I am NO expert), I came to Midnight Sun with the rose colored glasses lowered.
For those unfamiliar with this latest instalment in the Twilight series, check out the blurb (courtesy of GOODREADS):
When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
I had already heard a lot of opinions on the book via #booktwitter, and like I said, I am no longer fantasizing between a werewolf and a vampire love interest. But, like most Twi-hards of the late 2000's, I had read the snip-it of the Midnight Sun manuscript leaked online and loved it, so couldn't wait to see the story from Edwards perspective.
But oh my GOD. As I trudged through the 750+ pages, I was constantly taken off script on tangential ramblings, unnecessary backstory, and repetitive pining from our questionably redemptionable hero. I found myself skipping lines, paragraphs, and in some cases, pages of non-sensical blather that did nothing to move the story along. More than once I even had to re-read a line to try to make sense of it, prompting me to tweet 'Did this book even have an editor before going to print? Or is this a first draft that went to print merely from the authors name?'
Writers are told show don't tell, stay on track, and watch your pacing. Meyer broke every one of these rules, counting on fans love for the story to keep them reading, rather than the quality of the telling itself.
Yes, it was nice to see things from Edward's point of view, especially near the end when it came to promising to stay with Bella forever despite their difference of opinion on her humanity and future. But it was a physically painful read that I found myself wanting to get through merely out of stubborn determination rather than actual captivation.
I think, in retrospect, it was best to leave my Twilight adoration back in my past.
Congratulations! You've written your novel!
Now, comes more work.
The first draft of your story isnt expected to be good. It just needs to be written. It is in these next steps that you polish your work and make it ready for Wattpad or agents, or both, depending on what you want your end goal to be.
Once that first draft is finished, I suggest leaving it for a while. This could be a few weeks, a few months. Read other stories, watch movies, and clear the story from your mind. You need to come back to it with a clear vision, since looking at your own work objectively can be hard at any stage.
I strongly suggest doing at least two rounds of edits before you hand it over to anyone else. Spelling, pacing, plot holes. All these things are on you to find and correct during this stage. Again, it doesnt have to be perfect. Do your best to fix any issues that you find, make notes as you work, and smooth things out.
Then, once you've got it as far as you can take it, comes betas and CPs.
Betas are readers who are giving you a general reception to the story. They dont have to be writers or know the industry and what is required. They just have to give you an honest response to the story.
Think of Beta readers as the reviews you see on Goodreads. They will tell you what they like, what they dont, and what they think your book is similar to. This is all very important information, since they act like your future audience.
Critique partners are another group that are essential in writing. They are usually writers, editors, and the like who know the rules of writing and how to give advice for perfecting the work they read. CPs pick our grammar, pacing, character arcs, development, and all the things that editors and agents will be looking for. They are technical, rather than emotional readers, and can help you see the gaps in your story you may not have noticed before.
Finding solid CP and Beta groups can be hard, but is essential if you want to make your story the best it can be. Check out hastags on Twitter such as #CPmatch, #CP and the like. Ask on the Wattpad forums for Betas who may be willing to read the story before you post.
It is important to point out that you should research your betas and CPs before handing over any work. While we are all working towards the same goal, protecting your intellectual property is always an important consideration