Sunday, November 01, 2015

HOW TO EDIT YOUR MANUSCRIPT

It took me a long time to learn to like editing. With my first book, “The Fictitious Marquis,” back in the dark ages of 1993, when editorial notes actually came scribbled in the sides of a printed out manuscript’s margins, the first time I got a revision letter, I actually left it on the kitchen counter and tip-toed around it for an entire week before I had the stomach to read it in detail. Revisions? What do you means, revisions? Isn’t the manuscript perfect? Isn’t that why you bought it?

Cut to (I also write for TV) twenty years and over a dozen books later and I’ve worked with editors who had suggestions for nearly every line, and also ones who would give vague feedback like, “This scene doesn’t work. Make it work.”

I haven’t gotten much better at dealing with those sorts of notes, but I have taught myself to enjoy editing my own work. I look at it as sifting through the garbage and finding the decent story that’s buried underneath.

Usually, writers are advised to let their work sit and “air out” for a bit before diving in for a 2nd go. But as you can see by the dates of my live-written manuscript, I started it over a year ago, so aspiring writers could see what a real 1st draft looks like. I figure, by the time I got to the end, the beginning has aired out enough.

Writers are also advised never to show anything other than their very best work. That ship has obviously sailed. Now that I’ve demonstrated what a real 1st draft looks like, I’m going to do an equally ill-advised thing and show what happens in a 2nd draft edit.

As a reader, I like a tight manuscript that gets right to the good stuff. No description, minimal introspection, just tell me what happens next! During the course of writing the 1st draft live, I found that plugging a sentence into Twitter and making it fit the 140 character limit is a great way to hunt down excess words and unneeded adjectives. I intend to edit my entire manuscript using that method.

As of today, the document runs 96,566 words. My goal is to get it down to around 80,000 without sacrificing story - well, actually making it better.

Your input is welcome - live - at: www.AlinaAdams.com/live

Let’s go!

5 comments:

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