Well, we’re both still alive, we didn’t use copious amounts of Kleenex, and nothing valuable got smashed, so I’m calling yesterday’s NaNoWriEx session a success.
I really don’t know who Ceri has edited in the past; most of them must have been arrogant, insecure types, because she’s fantastic at offering creative, constructive advice, and helping you work things out. The point of handing a work like this off to someone else is so that you have a second pair of eyes seeing it for the first time to catch inconsistencies (which, bless her, she did) and take in the work as a whole and see how it balances.
We decided to hand them to each other with a minimal amount of editing, to see if the other reader would catch things we’d already pegged as problems, and sure enough, it was gratifying to hear her point out problems that I had already noted down to address — the resolution of a particular storyline, the use of minor characters in other places, and so forth. The good thing is she also pointed out other ways to resolve problems that I hadn’t seen. Likewise, the problems I talked to her about all seemed to be problems that she was already aware of or had anticipated in some way.
Moreover, Ceri put my mind to rest about things like my characters: she swore that every single one of them was different and an individual, and she loved them all. This made me squiggle with joy because I consider characters one of the most important elements of a story, something too many authors forget. (And for those NaNo participants from Montreal who are wondering: no, I have no clue when any of them were born, and what their favourite colours are. So there.) She also eased my paranoid fears regarding my portrayal of sensitive issues. What I wasn’t expecting was her comment that I had material for one or two more novels about these characters. I specifically did not plan a series, because so many YA novels end up as series — but it’s nice to know that I’ve created a sense of “life goes on”.
So! Back to the laptop! I have to add that penultimate chapter I had decided against in the orginal draft to tie up a couple of loose ends, incorporate her edits and word suggestions, and, well, the next step is shopping it around, isn’t it?