I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know that I did depart "Procrastination Station." Ok, maybe not thrilled, but whatever, I was pretty psyched. It started with some superficial changes and evolved into huge cuts and major re-writes. I have a long way to go before my manuscript is ready for an agent's eyes, but after I hit the delete button on chapter 3, (Don't feel bad. It was total crap.) I was fully committed. As the pages changed I could clearly see two things; 1: there is value to this excruciating exercise, 2: my friends/beta-readers had been telling me all along what was wrong and I was just too chicken to see it.
Here are some honest-to-goodness answers from my beta-reader questionnaires:
Question: How did you react to the opening of the story? Were you engaged or bored? Answer 1: I was engaged. Subtext: I was bored. So bored in fact that I'm going give you a three word answer because I can't remember anything specific. Answer 2: It seems to drag a little, but also needed to understand why [the protagonist] is the way she is. Answer 3: I was intrigued, but not completely hooked in the beginning. Subtext: I'm trying to be really nice here, because I see what you were trying to do, but damn, pick up the pace!
Question: Did the story move quickly enough? Too quickly? Answer 1: Some parts were too quick; especially at the end.* Subtext: Totally rushed the ending. What the hell?! Answer 2: Could move faster in some places. Subtext: It was too slow. I don't know where you fell off because I was napping. Answer 3: Yes. Subtext: ?????
Question: Was the resolution satisfying? If not, what would you have like to see happen?* Answer 1: I liked the resolution. Plus you could do a sequel. Answer 2: It was satisfying enough and left potential for a follow up book. Subtext: No. It was not satisfying. I want you to write a whole 2nd book just to make it ok. Get to typing! Answer 3: No!! I want a good sex scene at end! Okay. Okay. Save it for the 2nd book. Subtext: I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Also, what the first two said.
So, what can I take away from this? 1- I have some serious pacing issues. 2- My friends know what they're talking about. They may have given soft answers to spare my feelings, but the truth was still there. I just had to pay attention. * I'm not sure if I should be comforted by this, but according to this post on Bent on Books, the rushed ending is something that plagues a lot of us newbies. Check it out: Beginnings, Endings, and the Stuff in Between