I’ve been writing for decades. In fact, I guess it runs in the family. My sister has completed 4 or 5 romance novel manuscripts, and even worked with a literary agent for a while trying to get the first one sold. Her works are more along the “classic” lines of that genre than mine.
Mine is a military action / love story cross-genre mix that would probably be sold as a “romance novel” if it’s ever published. My sister’s books are good. Her agent’s only complaint was that the heroine wasn’t strong enough for today’s market. Maybe someday she’ll pursue that dream again and be published before I am.
I started writing out my story to share with my now-adult children and our friends, with no thought of any commercial possibility. The further along I got, the more convinced I became that, hey, this might sell!
So I threw in some fictional people and events to strengthen the “conflict” angle and to add challenges to the main characters. I went back through it and reworked sections to smooth it out. When I finally typed, “The End,” I was pretty satisfied. It came to 100,000 words, give or take.
My wife refused to read it. She’s a smart lady! She knew that she would find sections or passages that she’d want me to change, and it would likely cause a defensive reaction. She knows me well.
I asked both of our daughters to read it. They did, and were gleeful to learn some of the intimate details, new to them, of their parents’ meeting and courtship. I twisted their arms a bit and got them to provide me feedback on the story and the writing. My younger daughter works with Tina, a Creative Writing major who also read the whole manuscript. All said it was pretty good, but...
I really wanted to hear the rest of the “but...” I asked them to pretend it wasn’t me who wrote it, just critique it to me. With reluctance they all did, but they were far too gentle. Based on their “suggestions” I pared the length to 95,000 words and figured it was ready.
I began querying agents for representation.
Ah! The query letter. More on that next time.