More days have passed, but I have not been idle. In my quest to find other writers to converse with I have found an online community of writers. How cool is that? I have had a few people read the first two or three chapters, but it is VERY slow going. The comments I get in the first few chapters that talk about writing style and voice will transpire through the whole story, so they are valuable. I have also compiled the whole book into one file and forwarded that file to about 25 people or so. As of yet I have gotten NO feedback from them. I have some of my daughters friends reading it, but I get nothing back. So I continue with my own self editing. So here is what I have learned thus far.
First, reading your work outloud, though embarassing is exteremly helpful in finding flaws with your sentence structure and flow. If you stumble on the sentence, then it won't flow in the readers mind. Fix it. Of course it would help if you have an audience to listen to, but I don't think that my dogs really care one way or another. It'd be nice to read it to a live person. I would record it, but I can't stand to listen to my voice - that's why I write.
Next, critique other people's work. Now this one has caught me by surprise. On the online community feedback is given for feedback received. Guess it's as good a monetary system as any. But the benefit is that you start to see errors in the other writings that you may have not noticed in yours. For example I have been told I have a tendency to repeat myself when I write. I didn't really see what that meant until I seen it in another piece. Now I know what to look for. After you critique some on other people you start to get into a mode that'll help you critique your work in the same fashion. Just be nice to others, so that you will be nice to yourself.
Next thing learned is that the book shrinks in editing. It's amazing as you read something you see that this part or that part you can do without. It really hurts to press that delete button, but the text reads so much better after you do it. I am on about Chapter 15 with my editing and have thus far removed nearly 2K words.
I've learned something else, but I'm not sure if it is a lesson exactly. In editing the first chapter I found that entire paragraphs can be moved around and reordered with minimal rewording. This was was amazing for me to see when I did this. The section included description as well as dialogue. I managed to rearrange the order and it still read well. In fact it now reads smoother than the way I originally had it. I still hate the fact that I had to delete 1K words from that first chapter, but its done. I think it works better.
Lastly, accept criticism honorably. Don't get defensive, but at the same time don't bash another's writing because you didn't like their feedback. That is childish and not going to help you in the long run. Take a serious look at the feedback, another set of eyes may point out things in your work that you haven't seen before. Several points have been brought to my attention in those first three chapters that I had never thought about. It's good to have those new - trained - eyes.