I recently sent out my novel to second round of readers. As their critiques have come in, the mull has begun.
What is the mull, you ask?
Simply, it is the weighing of their comments. You see, this round of readers were what I call cold readers. They hadn’t seen any part of this manuscript before. They hadn’t seen any of the stories or been privy to any early drafts. What this means for me is that these readers will be able to look at the big picture and tell me if the overall novel holds together. Is it compelling? Does it have a sense of place? Do the characters feel and act real? These readers are important because they are sort of like the gatekeepers before we send the manuscript out to the wider world.
The good news is the manuscript is far enough along for them to take a look at the big picture. The harder news may be that their comments will ask you to look at the some big questions. In other words, the tweaks may have to be bigger tweaks. And so you have to weigh and mull because you want your manuscript to be the very best it can be before you send it out. By that I mean, you want it to be fully realized enough so that whoever reads it will be able to step into the world you have created. It’s tricky because you may have to revise with the agent or editor but you still have to give them a committed vision. It has to be set but you can’t be intractable.
Hence, the mull. The weighing. The looking. The figuring it out.
What do I do?
Well, I have to talk it out. Maybe I need the oxytocin which comes with talking. I write down all the questions and go through them with my most trusted critique advisors. We talk. We mull. We turn over possbilities. I need the talk because, when it is time to make choices, alone, I feel just a bit less alone.