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The novel has about 23 chapters at this point.  Jen the Critic has said that my dialogue is sometimes a bit confusing and needs a few more tags to help identify who's talking, and a couple of times characters said things that they realistically would not have said.  Most of her comments have been positive.  She likes the combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar in the imagined setting.  The characters seem real to her.  (She's not the one with the block!)  She finds the plot intriguing.  Now that's weird, because she said that after reading the first three chapters, and I wrote that part of the story without knowing where it was headed.  
Is too much positive feedback a bad thing?  Many people say not to let your mom read what you've written--is that why?
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Followup To

Question -
I should clarify "working on my first novel."  I'm finished the first draft and about halfway through the fourth or so, which I hope will be the last.  There were scenes and events in the first draft that did not ring true (i.e., were not credible) and I had trouble believing my antagonists.  It's the rewriting that's got me stuck.  
For a long time, I wasn't letting anybody read it.  Now a writer friend of mine is critiquing it--or was until May, when I gave her the last installment, which was chapters 4 and 5!  We have been in touch, though, and she is still willing to continue.  Although she hasn't only had good things to say about my work, she has been very gentle and constructive in her criticism.  
As for you other question, I don't make many spelling errors, but I fix those.  I usually leave my grammar and sentence structure alone.
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Followup To

Question -
Dear Ms. Morris,
I've been working on my first novel for almost 3 years now and am getting sidetracked by other ideas.  Part of the problem, I think, is that I'm out of touch with my characters.  When I started writing, they were very real to me.  Now, they still have all the traits I've given them to make them "round," and I can still sort of imagine what they look like, but they just seem like a bunch of pieces put together.  Why do you think this has happened to them, and how can I say "enough is enough" to my other ideas after plotting them out?  Actually, do you think this is a good idea?  Should I try to work on more than one at once?
Thank you so much.
Carissa

Answer -
Hello Carissa,

I can only guess as to what your problem is; however, I do believe it will be an accurate guess.  Are you editing, correcting, polishing grammar and sentence structure as you go?  Are you letting anyone read the manuscript chapters as you go?

Please reply to these questions and I will go from there.

Best regards,
Dorothy

Answer -
Hello again, Carissa,

I do believe that a novel needs more than 5 chapters; however, since the novel is in complete form, if not polished, I could not pass judgement on it unless I read the entire manuscript.  Since you already have a critic, I would not presume to interfere.  What has she had to say in regard to her criticisms?  Again,  I would not be able to judge her correctness or lack of it unless I read it. Could be that you are experiencing what most writers feel ... tough self-judgment. We all feel that at times, I believe. If you want me to read the manuscript, let me know.

Happy writing,
Dorothy  

Answer
Hello Carissa,

Sounds to me as though you do not entirely trust your friend's judgment.  Understandable.  I recommend that you find a professional critic and send the manuscript to him.
He will give you a professional opinion.  For my first novel I used "The Book Doctor" (thebookdoctor.com).

Good luck,
Dorothy

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Dorothy K Morris

Expertise

I can answer questions about writing fiction, creating characters and re-writing. I cannot answer homework questions.

Experience

I am a published author of nine novels in The Mockingbird Hill Series.

Organizations
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, NSDAR

Publications
NOVELS in the MOCKINGBIRD HILL SERIES: SECRET SINS OF THE MOTHERS, COYOTES OF CREEK CROSSING, THE EIGHTH EVIL, THE TIME IN BETWEEN, DIRTY RICE, TALLY'S NOOK, FROM THE FAR PLACES, NATURE OF THE BEAST, (THE RANKS OF THE INSANE (to come out summer 2016))

Education/Credentials
Studied writing at at American University in DC

Awards and Honors
Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in The World, Who's Who in America.

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