Part 1 was getting over my fear of giving my manuscript to my IR. Part 2 is about his reactions to it.
Like I mentioned in Part 1, I was scared to hand over my manuscript to my partner/IR, Lewis. He’s a great guy, super nice, and probably the last person who would say “lol wat shit” to me. He would, however, tell me if it needed work…or if I should abandon all hope and start something fresh, because the ideas weren’t that great. A bitter-sweet situation, because you want the feedback, but you’re a bit scared to hear it. That’s how I felt, at least. Interesting aside: A Japanese substitute for the expression “bitter-sweet” is a “double-edged sword.” I think that phrase is a bit more suited to how I felt, in that this situation had the potential to both help and hurt me.
Lewis started to read my manuscript, and he couldn’t put it down! This was not what I was expecting at all. I honestly thought he’d get bored of it and I’d find it sitting on his desk buried under some old bills and a couple grocery receipts, a few stray notes lingering here and there on the pages. The fact that this alone didn’t happen is great, and a huge confidence boost (a confidence boost which realistically could be snatched away once the manuscript it handed over to the masses, but I’ll get into that some other time).
I kept asking Lewis how he felt about certain characters and their actions/reactions. Lewis’ feedback was generally positive and he liked the characters. The protagonist is a teenage girl who is pretty open about her feelings. You know, the opposite of a stoic man in his late twenties. I feared that he would be annoyed by her personality, inner monologue and snap-decision making. But nope, he liked her, and understood her reactions and motivations better than I did. Again, a huge plus.
The ending of my book has two cliffhangers: the last two chapters end with two big things happening. Lewis was sitting in bed reading the end of the book, next to me (I let him this time). After he read the second-to-last chapter, he shouted, “HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT!” Man, I couldn’t stop smiling. This was exactly what I wanted. It was a great feeling.
But for me, the real holy shit moment was the last chapter. This blew my mind while I was plugging away the keyboard writing it, giving me goosebumps. I said to him “oh just wait until you read the last chapter!” I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to say and how he was going to react. He’ll lose it completely, I thought, grin on my face.
His reaction was disappointing. He said “oh, ok.” No enthusiasm. No reaction. Just “oh, ok.” Yeah, turns out the last chapter actually hurt the real cliffhanger, which ended up being the second-to-last chapter. The last chapter spoiled the shock of the one before it, because it revealed too much and gave my reader a sense of the inevitable outcome. Ouch.
But, once I got over my huffy moment, I realized that his feedback was an opportunity. “What if I made the last chapter the first chapter of the second book?” I asked. Lewis got excited again, saying, “Yeah, that’s a great idea! Let it end on the second-last one. That chapter and cliffhanger was great.” Woop wooooop. Like a double-edged sword, it hurt and helped me. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Do I have any more clichés to chuck at you? No, but if I think of some, I’ll add them in later (just kidding).
Anyone else encountered a situation like this? I’m interested to hear. It was exciting for me, as this is the first time I’ve let someone read my manuscript. It stung at times, but was definitely worth it to see him lose his shit over a cliffhanger (even if it wasn’t the one I was hoping for) and to get some ideas on how to move forward.