Dear Jackson, I really appreciate your feedback. It is spot on. When I began the book in January, I had little to no confidence in my voice as an author and that is the grounding that is lacking in the prose. I am reworking parts and honestly, taking a bit of space because I think you're also right on the length; I think I have two books, not one, or just one that needs to go on a diet.
It makes sense and there is some good tension in there as you go back to the childhood episodes. If I were looking for a self-help book or exploring such issues at a personal level then I probably would read on as your approach is clear and engaging - but I'm not, so it's not for me.
From what most agents say, 130,000 words is incredibly long for fiction and I can't imagine self-help being that long either. What I read of the beginning felt a little abstract. The first section in particular lacked grounding and I'd have preferred to have the main character established more clearly before jumping back into her childhood. Have you read any of the classic works of fictionalised autobiography on depression - William Styron, Sylvia Plath, even Virginia Woolf?? They manage to make the abstract sensation of depression quite real and physical. I think that to write successfully about such things, you need to work hard to link it to real life and real things.
I've written a YA book about BPD but focussed more on the social impact of the disorder as I found the chapters I wrote the went into great detail about the main character's episodes tended to become bogged down and self-indulgent.
It's definitely an area that people want to read about it, though I can imagine a publisher wanting you to decide whether you want your book to be an all out novel or a self help book.
I wanted to apologize for calling you Jackson. I have no idea where that came from...I'm reading The Bell Jar and it is amazing. Thank you again for your feedback; I've reworked the first chapter with your comments in mind. If you have any work to post, I'd love to read it and learn more from you. I'm new to all this.
This sentence is clumsy. 'She had heard that if one could identify the root of a problem, they could firmly grasp it and pull it out, much like unearthing a weed in a garden.'She had heard that if one could identify the root of a problem, they could firmly grasp it and pull it out, much like unearthing a weed in a garden.' '. She' doesn't go with 'they'. Try this...
Some said that problems were like weeds in a garden; if you could identify the root, it could be extracted from the psyche, like an unwanted plant from soil.
This way, you lose the filtering, improve narrative distance, and the grammar is less awkward. In general, I think those elements in your work need attention. Read Emma Darwin's excellent essay on psychic (narrative) distance on her blog, This Itch Of Writing. Immensely helpful.
Thank you so much Yve ; when I first get the words out they often crowd the thought. I really like what you have suggested ! This manuscript will get pretty, one sentence at a time! I look forward to reading the blog. Just in the three weeks since I have joined Jericho, I have read The Bell Jar on a recommendation, and really feel like I'm getting pointed in a more precise direction.
You are welcome! Nuts and bolts stuff. I was much struck by your approach; presenting self-help in a relatable narrative form avoids the often didactic voice of such works. I think it's really interesting and refreshing. Do five into Dr Darwin's site. She is a long time editor with Jericho, and it's earlier iterstion, Writer's Workshop. Brilliant novelist too!
Hope you post more of your wip. It caught my attention.