Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It'll Only Sting For a Minute!

It saddens me to cut parts from my Evil Little Manuscript,
but it's for her own good.  (photo by me:  Joey Francisco) 

This is my evil, glass-topped writing desk.

Death by scissors sounds ghastly, but if you're a writer and you've completed a manuscript, let's hope you've experienced this trauma (and it is trauma) because you'll have to do it maybe more than once to some characters or scenes before your manuscript is truly ready for readers.

Sure, you want to give the entire backstory on a certain character, but does it make the tale stop the flow of the story?  Look for this when doing re-reads of your work, and also pay very very close attention to any advice given from beta readers, negative feedback from a crit partner, and especially pay attention to anything from an agent if you do a manuscript critique at a conference (did one last year myself) or from your rejection letter(s).

It's the hard truth we must come to learn to accept, and when you use your virtual scissors to delete parts of your book baby, don't forget to copy, paste, and save that excerpt!  That's something we forget to do too, and should you need it later, or realize that segment was an integral part to the story instead of another part you cut, you'll always need to be able to go back and add it in.

I for one know I went kicking and screaming (sort of) when my critique partners told me to ax this or that (can you tell we write thrillers?) and I wanted to cry sometimes when I deleted, but after a while this became far less angst-y for me.

Wanna know what really took the sting out of whacking away parts of my manuscript?  Shhh!  This is my little secret and the thing I do whenever I write dialogue.  I read the section aloud.  So what I do is highlight first the portion of my ms I'm considering to cut, and then read the section aloud without that part  and listen to the flow.  Did it make events move forward?  Did it sound smoother?  If it truly passes that test, then by all means delete away.

And after you receive the feedback, be sure to thank whoever gave it to you. As for me, I think it's never too late to continue tweaking, and last night just sent the ms to two more beta readers for their feedback.  Neither are writers, but both are avid readers and one is a businessman and can't wait to hear their thoughts on the E.L.M. So get rid of any remnants of your ego and do this because you:

  • Believe in your book.
  • Desire for your book to be in it's best fighting-shape for the query and submission process.
  • Won't finish it until it's perfect. 
Look, I know I'm asking you to do something painful. 

We all have to go through painful events in life before we get a good outcome.  Maybe you had braces as a teen? Maybe you trained athletically to make a certain team in high school? Or maybe you had a wiggly tooth as a child that hung on for dear life to a nerve?

Or maybe you were like this guy who got his ass served to him on a silver platter before coming back to knock out the opposition. >

Pardon the cheesy 70's music, but you get the picture. 
But we need to go throught his process to get the end result we want.  After all, as I said earlier, your manuscript needs to get into it's best fighting shape ever! Hell, there's a lot of competition out there folks, but in the end it's really you vs. you, and will take determination, hard work, and a little pain.  

Yell with me now, "Adriannnnnn!!!!"

1 comment:

T.J. said...

I have some of my own cutting to do. But first, the novella needs to be finished and put out in the world. If I can find my guts!