Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bedtime Beta Readers: Reading My NaNoWriMo Novel to My Kids

Last November, I wrote a novel. I have tried to write a novel for years and years, and I have never, ever written more than about two chapters. I think my max was 5,000 words on one project total. Then, last November, I wrote a novel.

It was a YA space novel. I figured I would try to make it as realistic as I can. The Martian for kids, I said. Golden-age sci-fi without being socially offensive. Astronaut firefighters! Space anthropologists! Rocket races! Moon stations, and a little bit of pie-in-the-sky politics. It seemed fun, and I finished with a couple days to spare.

But then it got awkward. I had a manuscript, it was a complete story at just over 200 pages—technically a full novel, but it was pretty clearly unedited. So, I got to re-reading it and found some problems. I had Crystal read it, and she found some problems. And then I submitted it to an agent. No joy, not even a rejection letter. I submitted it to a Pitch Slam. They loved my pitch, but didn't end up taking my novel. Too short, they said. (And probably some other things, let's not lie to ourselves here.)

So, as I was finishing up reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the kids' bedtime story, it struck me: maybe I should read them my book! They're not really YAs at all, but they have loved other YA literature. Why not?

So that is the challenge: I am going to read my novel to my kids, make edits based on what comes out of that, and post both updates AND my full novel on this blog. I figure, what do I have to lose? I'll use the tag "beta readers" for updates and "the orbitals" (the title of the book) for story content.

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