I am currently working on a book I originally wrote in 1998. I polished it then to the best of my ability. I have read it several times. Time hasn’t given me objectivity; instead, I am more in love with the story than ever.
I am thankful for an honest critique partner, and she more or less hates it (she wouldn’t say so in so many words).
What’s the truth—a fairy tale romantic story or a dismal failure? Ultimately, my editor and my readers will decide.
But it brings up a problem many writers struggle with: how do we bring fresh eyes to a manuscript we’ve rewritten half a dozen times or more? Am I seeing this manuscript through the fond eyes of a mother or with a critical editor's eye?
I have no easy answers to that question, but here are a few ideas:
• Move on to another project if you have time.
• Leave this project alone between edits for as long as you can.
• If you have time and willing friends, give the manuscript to someone who has never seen it before.
• Read the manuscript aloud. Even better, have someone else read it aloud.
• Read the book from end to beginning.
• Dialogue with a trusted partner. What were you trying to do? How did it fail? (How) can it be fixed?
• Look at individual elements of the story, such as: character descriptions (consistent?); dialogue (each person unique?); timeline.
What ideas do the rest of you have? Do you struggle with this problem and if so, how do you handle it?