Let That Thing Fester
Thursday March 29, 2012 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Uncategorized
I actually had a little down time in there while I was waiting for the exam to be graded. I was initially expecting four weeks of waiting but it only took four days. At any rate, I had time to do some revision on the first few chapters after feedback from my alpha readers and I actually feel like I have enough distance now to see it like someone else wrote it. I was able to make big cuts and move some stuff around and really focus the POV. Getting that distance is key. I got some great advice and some great feedback from my alphas, thank you!
When people tell you to put your manuscript in the drawer for a month or two and let it ferment, they aren’t kidding. I did some preliminary editing after only a few days, but I was really having trouble seeing the errors. Stacy can tell you I went off the reservation with the word “just”. It was laughable how many times I used that word in one chapter alone.
As the creator you can often have a hard time detaching yourself from your own POV. You already know everything that happened and all the background details and motivations, so when you go in to start your revisions you can’t divorce yourself from yourself (Austin Powers anyone?) without giving yourself enough time after the manuscript is finished. Completing the manuscript is a huge thing. A lot of writers never get there, so I’ve heard. And I know I was excited, not because I finished the manuscript, but because I was one step closer to being published, and I wanted to get on with the revisions. I’m here to tell you that you have to wait a bit before you take that next step.
The manuscript is near and dear to your heart. You’ve invested a lot of energy and time getting to “The End”. Carving up your baby is simply not feasible at that point. Any believe me, it needs to be carved up and have great chunks removed and tossed in the waste bin. (Boneyard) It’s like a grotesque turkey that has too many legs and wings and parts sticking out and it needs to be prepped and oiled and baked to perfection still. But before you can do any of that you need to stick it somewhere dark, where you will leave it alone, and let it fester for a few months. When you put it away it looked like a bright shiny baby, when it comes out it will look like Chucky, and you can stab it and carve it up. I must be hungry. Enough of the carving analogies. You get the idea.
When you get it back out you will be able to see it as a work of literary fiction instead of “your precious”. You can see the POV errors and the extra background that really isn’t germane to the story. You can see the bad dialogue tags and the dreaded adverbs and poor word choices. You can see the poorly written sentences, and maybe there are chapters that really don’t even need to be there. At the very least they need to be massively trimmed and combined with another part somewhere else. It is eye opening … really. Put that sucker away! Don’t touch it! Ah..I see you going back to look at it, I said leave it alone.
Anyway, as an aside, I’m also in the process of applying for a Master’s program in writing, so I had to put some finishing touches on some writing and then write a Letter of Intent. It was kinda fun actually. I’m shooting for the Seton Hill University Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction degree. It is a distance learning program that will only require me to spend 5 days each semester on campus. That works great for my busy lifestyle. The cool thing is it is designed for you to have a publishable novel length book at the end of the program. I’m very excited about it and have my fingers crossed to get in. It’s a small Catholic university near Pittsburg, so it’s also driving distance, at least until I move.
I hope you are all having great fortune in your writing and reading!
An excellent!! Wow! That's…excellent! (yeah, I couldn't resist). I'm happy for you, though. It's got to be a huge relieve to know one step is out of the way. And you're right about stepping away from the book. In a way I'm glad it's been two months, well, almost three, before I get to editing Ghostly Liaison. I know the farther away I am, the easier the editing will be because I won't have it so fresh in my head. Well, that's my hope, anyway!Good luck with your editing and I hope your beta readers love your novel!!
Thank you, Stacy! It is a big relief, and now I have about 2 months to get ready for the next test. It is going to be hard, 685 pages closed book. Good luck with your edits too!
Wonderful news, all the way about. Thanks for sharing this. I'm happy you are back to only one job and … much fun to you in writing that Letter of Intent.Here's to more good days and lots and lots of writing.
It's true that it's best to let a manuscript sit before you dive back in. But for me, time has never been enough. Even if I wait three months before coming back to it, I still feel so attached. I've discovered that the only way to knock that shine off (for me) is to write something new. Once I've begun a brand new project, I can begin to see the flaws in the old one. I wonder if that's just me? *shrugs* Anyway, congrats on all the good news!
Thank you, Ivy! I am now working on an Essay for the Scholar's Discount. I have to invite 3 people I don't know to dinner to discuss my post graduate studies and explain why I picked them. At least I'm writing!
That's interesting that you have to use another story as the scissors to your umbilical to the last story. I had actually started outlining the next book in the series, but I doubt that would have been different enough to have any impact. I'll have to see if that works for me in the future. Thanks for your comment, Annie!