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Monday, November 19, 2012

A Read Through

Elswyk’s Moon. (I talked about my first novel the last time I was here.)

Once I decided that I was really going to do it, I was really going to go back and rewrite the thing, I knew the first thing I needed to do was to read through the whole thing and see what was there. I pulled up the manuscript and attempted to load it onto my nook… [technical difficulties] …and then I sat back and read through what I had.

Chapter one was okay. It’ll need a polish, but it won’t need any major surgery. Chapter two needs to be cut entirely.

Chapter two started a subplot about a custody dispute. I guess I could make it work, but as I pondered the plot of the novel, I realized that it just wasn't necessary. It doesn't do much more than distract from the central conflict of the story—someone’s trying to kill the king. I can lose that whole story line and not lose anything that I need.

So, going in to chapter three, I felt pretty confident. I can do this. Then I read chapter three.

Oh. My. God-awful.

I was floored. I wondered why I got no nibbles on this manuscript. Now I know. Chapter three is a 3000-word long what not to do.

The thing is, now I see it. Now I see exactly what is wrong with it. And all of those mistakes are fixable.

I thought I’d share what I've learned with you.

Because, as long as we continue to practice and learn, we will get better. And we can improve our writing. Just so long as we try.

How about you? Have you ever gone back to read through an old manuscript only to find that you know exactly how to fix it?


Sean McLachlan said...

Setting aside a manuscript for a while is the best first step towards revision. You can come back with a fresh set of eyes and see things you would have never caught otherwise. If only we had that extra time for all our writing assignments!

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I recently had a similar lightbulb moment with the first novel I ever wrote. I'm itching to go back and rewrite it. It's a good essential story, but it makes all the novice writer mistakes. I can't wait to get started on it!

Charity Bradford said...

Thank goodness for growth and perseverance! I love when you figure out how to get around the elephant. Unfortunately sometimes it takes many cycles of shelving and revisiting for me. But if it's a story that's embedded itself in my heart, I keep going back until I figure it out.

Good luck on your revisions!

mshatch said...

Oh, yes. I often want to go back and revise everything. But then I find something new that excites me just as much. Sometimes it's hard to choose! One thing I've noticed lately is that I'm catching my mistakes sooner, sometimes right away. Practice works :)

Huntress said...

The one thought running through my mind as I edit a ms I 'finished' two years ago: WTH was I thinking when I first queried this putrescent?

*facepalm* Thank Heavens we improve as we practice or this writing stuff would lose its charm darn fast.

Liz A. said...

That's the luxury of the first novel.

Liz A. said...

December? January? I know what you mean.

Liz A. said...

Shelving, rewriting, a couple years...

Liz A. said...

I hope my newer scribbles will take less time to get right.

Liz A. said...

I had much the same thought as I read through chapter 3.