When my mum critiqued DAMAGE version one for me last year she didn’t hold back. It was three pages long and covered everything from small grammatical errors to a whole chapter that was told the wrong way. That’s when I learned how valuable a critiquing partner can be. So, despite my Troll rant, I have to admit that all the comments I’ve received are useful, even if some of the ones via social media aren’t always phrased in the nicest way.
So last weekend I started on another edit, taking out some of the back-story and internal monologue from the beginning section and trying to work in a few more low-key interactions between Cerys and Aiden so that he’s not quite so distant. I think the aspect of writing I’ve struggled with most is what scenes, or parts of scenes, to put in and what to leave out or summarize.
But I’ve had two critiques now that say they don’t think Cerys is a well-rounded character and that stumps me, to be honest, as I thought characterisation was my strong point. The story’s told in the first person specifically so that the reader can get right inside her head and Cery’s personality is carefully developed throughout the book so that she changes and grows in confidence in response to the things that happen to her and the way Aiden helps her. Her internal monologue is necessary because she’s hiding so much from other people. If you don’t hear what she’s thinking you wouldn’t know when she’s lying or being evasive. So the idea of reducing that internal monologue is hard, but it’s obviously putting some readers off.
I need to go back and re-read All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry which has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal this year. In that book the main character has had her tongue cut out and also can’t read or write, so her story involves a lot of her internal thoughts. So how does Julie Berry do that successfully? I’ll have to re-read it this weekend and figure it out.