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  • Writer's pictureWalker Buckalew

Your In-Family Readers: Part Two

Your In-Family Readers: Part Two

In my most recent post, I wrote this:

I’m passing 55,000 words on the fifth novel in my Rebecca Series. That means I am getting close to the point at which I will ask my wife Linda to read the third batch of about 70 (printed) pages and give me feedback. This is always a big step.

It is a big step that happens, for me, four or five times during the writing of a novel. It’s a little perilous because family members, being family members, have more to think about than merely their response to what they are reading. They’re going to have to live with the author after providing their response!


That happened. Linda read the material, covering (roughly) pages 140 to 210 of the double-spaced manuscript. Her verdict: too scattered; too unfocused; too many themes at once; too far from Rebecca’s mind….

You get the idea.

So, as I wrote last time, “this is always a big step.” In this case, the verdict was similar to the verdict rendered, at this stage, about my first Rebecca novel, The Face of the Enemy, and about the second, By Many or By Few. By the time I wrote the third and fourth, I seemed to have figured things out a little better, and this (enormous) level of revision was not called for with either of those novels, Such Thy Mercies and Choose You This Day. Only the usual amount of editor-driven changes was needed for those.

In the diary that C. S. Lewis kept when he was in his 20s, there is this note regarding the near book-length poem he had been working on for years, titled Dymer. He noted that when one of his literary friends read the most recently completed portions of the poem, the friend had, “condemned in no measured terms” those portions. Mr. Lewis wrote in his diary: “After discussion I largely agreed with him and decided to cut them out: in spite of the work I had put into them I felt surprisingly little disappointment at giving them up. I suppose that in the expulsion of anything bad from the mental system there is always pleasure.”

I can say the same. A Fearful Thing is going to be a lot better than it would have been without the rewriting I’m working through right now. I felt that the story was becoming too scattered, but I needed another pair of eyes to make the same judgment.

Linda did. And I’m grateful.

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