As I continue with the editing of my current project, I keep telling myself, “This is really good.” I don’t say that about a lot of manuscripts (I’m my own worse critic). I say, “This dialogue is perfect,” or “These are amazing characters”, but very rarely do I say, “This is really good.”
Now all I have to figure out how to go from really good to really great. I think it’s the subtlest of things that differentiates the good novels from the great novels. Maybe a character whines a little too much. Maybe there’s too much humor and not enough drama (or vice versa). Maybe it’s something as miniscule as a character having the wrong name. In any case, it’s my duty to struggle over the most minute and mundane things in the manuscript; to make it as good as it can be.
The way I see it, if I’m asking some fourteen-year-old to shell out sixteen bucks for a hardback, I’d better make damn sure that it’s worth his or her money.