Usually, I don't show things until they're finished -- but my wonderful agent kindly offered to look at my novel-in-progress "even if it's rough." So with some trepidation I sent it to her.
It's always scarey to send something even when it's finished and much scarier to send something that is not. But I really wanted to know if I was wasting my time -- there were parts of the book, all the middle-grade, childish parts, in fact -- that felt forced to me, forced and clunky. I wasn't interested in them (I can now say this).
But I didn't tell her that. I just sent her the whole thing.....and her first comment was that I needed to decide what age group I was writing for. Then she urged me to make the heroine older -- and (when, I think, she realized that I wasn't going to be devastated by the deletions) to take out all the childish scenes.
What a relief! She said a lot more (including what WAS working), but the point of this post is how incredibly helpful the right comments at the right time can be; and that this conversation proves something I've long suspected. The writer always knows, deep down (or maybe not so deep down) what's wrong. It's just that sometimes we -- or I, anyway -- don't want to admit it and am hoping I'm wrong, just being too critical blah blah. But in this case, admitting it has come as huge relief -- now I know what this book is going to be. Or rather, what I'm going to try and make it.
And showing it to her at this point has saved me a huge amount of time--I would have realized what was wrong eventually; but it's great to know NOW. Thank you Sara!