And now the real work begins

I finished my first draft! Woot-woot!

To celebrate, I led my children in an arms-flailing, legs kicking dance fest. (Poor children. They’ve inherited my sense of rhythm. If our family was ever tasked with clapping to the beat, none of us would clap at the same time.)

But now the real work begins. I send my fledgling out to the world. Actually, I send it to my friend Buffy, who’s also a writer. She sends me a chapter at a time of her latest work, and I do the same. We ruthlessly edit and exchange.

The ruthless bit is key. You know how everyone needs a friend with whom they can be completely honest? Beyond “You’ve got spinach in your teeth” to “Don’t ever wear those pants again. Just don’t.”? Beyond “Are you sure you’ve thought this through?” to “That’s idiotic.”? The friend you trust enough to watch your newborn so you can take a shower (let’s be real, nap)?

I’m blessed with two of these friends. I call them my sisters. (Because they are my sisters.)

Buffy and I can be totally honest about our writing in this way. She picks up on what I gloss over in a manuscript, needing to know a character’s motivation when I just needed that character to move the plot forward. She calls me out when dialogue isn’t genuine, when I’m telling and not showing, and when action is lackluster.

And when she adds a “Love it!” to the end of a paragraph, I feel like I’ve earned a prize.

After my work gets the Buffy seal of approval, I’m ready to send it to beta readers for their opinions and edits, and then, when I’m sure it’s as close to perfect as it can be, my agent.

Writers, what’s your editing process? When do you feel like your manuscript is “done” and ready to share with an agent?