How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing

You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures.  As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you.  Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.

Manny in prison

You finish.  It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo.  So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification.  You are done.  Take it to the publisher.  Right?  Not so fast.  There could be an error or two.  Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened?  Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing  mountain RANGE.

Manny's Big Boy pants

  1. Put on your big girl/boy pants.  Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored.  I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become.  You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place.  If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
  2. Enlist the help of close friends and family.  My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet.  Nonetheless, he has been a great help.  I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over.  For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.”  Do you know how difficult that is to do?  My thought was where in the world could I take her?  My husband suggested a male strip tease club.  Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW.  I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco.  It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were.  We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all.  It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
  3.  Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear.  One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique.   MORE research comes into play at this level of revision.  I used several books about my target city.  I looked up controversies on the internet.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story.  I am very familiar with the place.  The investigations gave me new perspective.   So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me.  It might be different to you.  You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions.  Everyone is unique.  I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
  4. Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters.  One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality.   Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me.  I can go back and change things about her/him.  Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family.  I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book.  So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
Manny and Justina
Manny and Justina, with just a few easy changes! 🙂

So now it’s all good, (for now).  Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64.  But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack.   http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/editing-your-own-work/

Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over.  The photoshopping is mine.  You can catch Justin at theadventuresofjustinbeaver.wordpress.com.

Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures?  Setting IS important, yes?

 

 

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant. Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

21 thoughts on “How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing”

  1. Hi Marsha, very good tips you’ve given us, but the part that you talk about enlisting “the help of close friends and family” is what I find most interesting since honest, and sometimes unflattering, feedback is hard to come by. I, however, can’t go away without mentioning the piece of music – what a treat! See you, Mr. Violin.

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    1. You know, I have found that unflattering feedback is not ALWAYS hard to come by, unfortunately. That is what discourages people, but the honest part is SO important. The ones that take the time to point out in detail what you are doing right and minimize the errors as something that is easily corrected are the ones that motivate me to continue and make changes. Thanks for your encouraging comment! 🙂 Keep the music going! 🙂

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  2. Greetings fellow writer. Glad to see you are getting awesome feedback to your manuscript. Have a great holiday.

    Sirfelion
    PS, great advice for the novelist. I just have to get going onto my novel that got one page, since scrapped though!

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    1. Hi Sir,
      Your daughter is so helpful to me. She quoted some of my favorite lines. It’s nice to know that someone connects with your writing, and why. It’s also helpful to know what is lacking, but not necessarily specifics. The ones I shared were very helpful to me, and have caused me a great deal of effort that I am enjoying very much. 🙂

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          1. I fear SmilingToad has been commenting about my book, not yet quite started. I seem to be in research mode, but must bust out and get on it. Thanks for the comment.

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          2. Write as you research, Sir. Write about your research, and publish it on your blog. Then let others encourage and comment as you go. When it’s done, it will be a collaborative masterpiece. 🙂

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    2. P.S. I minimized the difficulty of writing, and that is no easy feat! It’s a struggle to build characters, find a plot you are passionate about, and merge. There should be a button for that! So don’t give up. You have something important to say. Start with your life. You’ve had some difficult experiences, some funny ones, and that’s what I used to build my story. Then they morphed from there, and yours will too. I found writing my memoirs to be too whiny, but when I could put people’s stories together in fiction characters the memories became more manageable and interesting.

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  3. Hi Manny,
    I see you have been a bad boy and ended up in jail. Did I teach you right ? How many times have I told you not to get caught, but you didn’t listen !! And then you fell in love…….ooh…. that’s sweet. I hope it was a one night stand….. if so I taught you well. Don’t tell your Mom or Dad about your addiction to champagne, that’s our secret. Have you any pretty teddy bears that you have your eye on ?
    Love Ralph 😀

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    1. Dear Ralph,
      I had a five month month stand away from home. I met tons of people, brought home my passport all stamped and filled out, and brought lots more pictures for Mom and Dad. We did have our problems, but Carol promised not to tell Mom what they were. I’m afraid she found this picture, though. Champagne is a Europe thing. Mom doesn’t let me have it at home. I don’t like it too much anyway. I’m sorry, Ralph. I like doughnuts better. Champagne is too sour. I love Melissa and Ute. I like Carol, too, but she doesn’t dance with me like Ute does. Melissa took me on a cruise. I like the little girl at your house that made me the hat. I love Fanny. I’m not ready to get married, yet. I’ve got too much to do. I hope you are having a nice Christmas, Ralph. 🙂

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Your babbling is music to my ears. Please leave a comment!

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