In late June, I rejoined the Internet Writing Workshop’s Novel List to have part one of Julius critiqued. So far, I’ve submitted eight chapters, and the comments have been positive.

Sometimes I get questions about the story that seem obvious to me. My first impression is the reader missed the point—because it’s right there in black and white—but I promised myself to not get frustrated and not allow ego get in the way.

For example, yesterday I received a critique peppered with questions from a reader. This crit was a bit harsh, and I felt she didn’t get it. I realized later on—in spite of what I thought was to the point writing—it wasn’t clear to the reader. So it’s time to rework it again and again until I get it right, and my reader can say to me “Aha, now I get what you’re conveying here.”

While I submit my work, I’m also reading books on the craft of writing. I’m being choosy with what I have in my vast collection, but I decided to tackle Donald Maass’s The Breakout Novel Workbook because I see some of the problems I keep running into in Julius.

I should mention I have a love-hate relationship with many of these books. There are moments I think, “Eureka! A breakthrough” only to discover I’m still missing a crucial element within the story.

I admit I get frustrated with much of what I read in many of these books. I end up writing it my way, but I also know if I want to finish this story I should make an effort to become proficient in the art of story-telling.

In some ways, it’s back to school. Instead of rushing through the exercises—as I have a tendency to do—I plan to take my time and make Julius as solid as possible.

For those of you interested in the process and who haven’t read  Don’s book, Writing the Breakout Novel, give it a looksy. In the meantime,  I’ll report on my progress. Maybe you can learn with me while I stumble around.