Tag Archives | revising your manuscript

DIE! DIE! DIE! Said the man turned into a donkey.

In fifth grade, my daughter participated in a Shakespeare play. A Midsummer’s Night Dream. She played the role of Puck (or duck or Chuck, something like that). So instead of getting to wear the cool costumes for a girl, she was a man and a donkey. Not very glorious. Not every girl’s dream.

But it turned out to be a terrific role, the humorous role, the fun role.

She spoke loud and clear and the audience could actually here her. (Sometimes kids mumble on stage. Okay, most kids mumble on stage.) Younger kids wanted her autograph later. She was a star.

It’s now a couple years later and we both agreed that no one will ever forget the famous scene. The one where she stabs herself over and over again, yelling out, “Die, die, die!” She acted dead for a few seconds. Then burst out with one more. “Die!”

And yep, that’s what I’m doing right now with my manuscript. Not to all of it. But to the parts that recently showed themselves as fools gold, gimmicks, and trickery.

Scenes I thought were crucial – gone.

Scenes I loved – deleted.

Scenes I told myself would never go – collecting dust in a cyber folder.

In so many ways my manuscript is changing, scenes rearranged and rewritten and restructured.

Yet, the core of my story is still the same.

And this manuscript was done! (Or so I thought.)

But I received some terrific feedback. And I thought about the reader. What will the reader want? What will keep him/her turning the pages? I stopped thinking about myself.

And I pulled out the largest pair of scissors I have and practiced my evilest cackle in the small mirror in our tiny downstairs bathroom.

Mwa ha ha ha!

Comments { 27 }

How I Write: Macro editing, Me, and Light bulbs

(Check out Ansha’s blog for a list of participating writers!)

I have to be honest. It took me a long time to understand macro editing. I mean, it’s so much easier to line edit. It’s very concrete to look through my writing for weak verbs, over-used words, weak chapter endings, typos…etc.

I’d read phrases like adding emotion, inner and outer conflict, three-act structure, goal/motivation, pacing – and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. At some point, a light bulb flickered on inside my brain – and I got it.

As I just started macro editing, I’m going to share what I’ve done so far.

1. I let my story sit for 6 weeks while beta readers took a look. Then I read it and took brief notes of obvious stuff that needed rewriting. I also added smiley faces for parts I liked.

2. I wrote a few drafts of a query letter and the synopsis to be revised later. This helps with plot holes.

3. I wrote a new beginning with a stronger hook to tie in to my story goal.

Story Structure

4. I wrote a one-line description for each scene. I separated my scenes into the three-act structure. I took Alexandra Sokoloff’s wisdom to heart. I checked to make sure I had opening tension introducing the story goal. I checked for the Act II midpoint climax or big twist. I checked for increasing tension up through the climax. Her blog is a must read.

5. I plugged my story into the nine point grid I read about on query tracker.

At this point, I know parts need to be rewritten. Sentences cry out to be beefed up and rewritten. But I’m not doing anything yet.

 6. And this next step is new for me. I have a 4×6 index card for each scene. And here’s what’s on them.

  •  mc’s goal
  • action taken
  • opposing force
  • Outer (point of change)
  • Inner (point of change that corresponds to the outer)
  • Suggestions: (Here I write down suggestions for what I’m missing)

And so far, a lot of my scenes are missing the inner conflict, which means the emotion is weak. Geez!

This is where I’m at now. I do know the next few steps I’ll take.

7. Rewrite the big scenes that need to be changed.

8. Rewrite according to the index cards.

9. Rewrite according to my notes from my read through.

And there you have it – my long learning curve with macro editing. Is there anything I missed? What works for you? And I hope I’m not the only one who once thought revisions meant line editing. (Feel free to lie to make me feel better.)

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Cut the “crap”.

A comment from Jayde on Wednesday’s post got me thinking.

It’s amazing how there’s an emphasis on the need to cut, when in fact many publishers will ask for more description, more thoughts, more colourful language. While craft books are fantastic in that they teach a writer the basics of good and bad writing, in the end establishing a personal voice that engages a reader and truly works is what will get a book published.

And yes, I agree. A story needs fleshed out scenes, colorful language, specific details. When people who know what they are talking about, advise cutting 10% of your manuscript – they mean to cut the crap. (Which in my first first draft meant basically the whole thing.)

And then replace it with specific details, great showing, well-placed telling…etc.

So often times, it’s not just cut, cut, cut.

It’s cut, cut, cut, and then replace with better writing that’s not crap. And honestly that kind of writing doesn’t happen over night. It doesn’t come after just reading every how to book ever written. It comes with practice.

So write, write, write.  Read, read, read (and hopefully some excellent writing will seep into your subconscious).

And when you realize you’ve learned a lot, you can lean back and say, “Aah, now I understand cut, cut, cut.” You’ll see frivolous dialogue, sentences that could be tightened, characters that could be combined.

Have patience. You’ll get there.

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