This is the point when a critique group would come in handy. I'm nearly finished with my first draft of my novel, and after editing it myself, I'll need others to read it. Others who don't already love me and want to say nothing but nice things about my three-year effort to become a novelist.
I joined a fiction writers' group at a local coffee house about a year ago, but only went a couple of times. I stopped because--and this is going to sound bad--they couldn't write. I mean, really couldn't write. As I listened to them read from their cliched and badly-punctuated stories, my thoughts were these: "I know I'm not great. So doesn't it follow that I need people who are actually good to tell me what I'm doing wrong?"
Staying in that group would have been the blind leading the blind. I know how horrible and snotty this sounds. Who am I, an unpublished author, to judge other unpublished authors' works? But I do edit stuff for a living, and I know readable material when I see it.
So. I wish I knew someone only well enough to send them my manuscript and ask them to invest the time in reading it, but not well enough that they'd feel like they had to praise it. I need someone who knows what they're doing to rip it to shreds. Seriously. I'm a big girl, I can take the heat. As much as I love, love, love my family--and I will ask some of them read it and make suggestions--they know how hard I've worked and might not be as critical as an agent in NYC is going to be if one ever reads it.
I'm taking suggestions now! The plan is to hammer this thing out by the end of the month, then spend November and December revising. If you know anyone who's merciless with a red pen and feels like reading a 90,000-word YA mystery, send 'em my way. Pretty please.