Editing and Reading Groups

Wow, things really progressed this weekend with editing Book I.  Once I got rolling, I was really able to make use of what I had learned.

Only problem was, I thought there was more “dead wood” in that stretch of manuscript than there was.  My pacing, as I read through it, was better than I feared.  That sounds like a good thing but, in this instance, it isn’t.  The reason?  I was deprived of some of the more obvious ways to make it a little shorter.

Time to ‘fess up.  My manuscript is too long.  Pre-edit, it stood at 120K.  I am fully aware that it is too long, so no need for lectures.  The edits I’ve done so far — eliminating non-essential characters, cutting scenes that don’t move the plot along, cutting out backstory — are all on paper still, so I don’t know what their impact will be.  They will certainly shave some of that off, but not 15K.  For that I am going to have to shorten the characters’ journey, or eliminate scenes that do advance the plot but not enough, or change the plot in some other way.  I’m sure I can make it better and shorter at the same time; haven’t we all read books and been left wanting more?  That’s the feeling I’m striving for from my readers.  Rather than the opposite feeling — is she ever going to get to the point?  But without reading the whole thing in one night, how will I ever know exactly what to cut from here?

In short, after I finish these edits, it may be time to have someone else read it and give me their opinion.

Here’s my question — I’ve heard many of you talk about critical reading groups.  How do I find one that will appreciate my story and be willing to read something in the YA romance/fantasy genre?  (I don’t want to waste time with a reviewer who really hates fantasy, for example.)  What do I have to do for them in return – do I agree to read their work?  What about copyright concerns when I send someone my manuscript?  Are these real or virtual groups?  Is there a forum somewhere where people can post their needs?  Someone please enlighten me on this process.  So far I have had only two people read the manuscript, and both of them read a hard copy.  And neither of them had a single suggestion to make it shorter!

Your help in guiding me through this scary but necessary phase of editing would be much appreciated.

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