A dear friend of mine just took the time and care to read the first few pages of what I believed to be my final draft. And, in less than 20 minutes, was able to compile the following laundry list of issues that she referred to as immediate deal-breakers:
-too much passive voice (was)
-POV issues (facial expressions, etc.)
-show - don't tell (don't say "startled" - show raised eyebrows)
-do not start a sentence with the word it - ever! (okay, once or twice per book)
-too much he said, she said - show the reader who is talking
-tighten and eliminate unnecessary words to increase tension
-too many adverbs - use action verbs instead (don't walk slowly - slink)
-no coma needed at the end of dialogue if not followed by he said / she said
-use Times New Roman 12, double-spaced - google standard m/s format
I'm both embarrassed and humbled by her initial observations. Talk about a rough draft and a huge setback.
And, I still love her -- more so now that she was able to point out such specific and general issues with it. Not one of the 4-5 other people who've read the first chapter (not counting the 20+ agents) could break down the actual writing like that.
I guess I do need to realize that I'm not as brilliant as I thought -- which has to be the hardest lesson I've had to learn thus far.
Her words of praise rang a little hollow despite being full of sincerity ... "With that said, you are an amazing writer! Your ideas are great and your characters are interesting! The fact that you can churn out a rough draft in such a short time is truly a testament to your ability and your tenacity. Embrace the editing process and you will be a best selling author!" ... but I do appreciate the sentiment.
Sigh. Back to the drawing board ... or, writing desk. I'm not sure where to go from here, but I can tell you that it will be forward.
She suggested that I join a critique group or writing class. But will I actually have the ability to sign up for something like that? I'm not sure ...