Thursday, January 25, 2007

Editing Your Manuscript

Some people will tell you that the writing of the book is the fun part -- the creative juices flow, the muse visits. Others say the re-writing is the best part -- molding and shaping the rough draft, turning it into a thing of art.

All writers are different. Some wander through the world of their story, writing scenes as they formulate, skipping around. Others create an outline and write the opening scene then progress straight to the end.

Most authors re-write to a certain degree as they go. Very few plod along, never re-reading what they wrote the day before. Most of us, when we finish what we call the first draft have actually re-written the majority of it several times already.

Even those people who profess to enjoy the re-write process will admit that self-editing is hard work. I find that it's easiest, though, if you take it in stages. Today, Stage One:

Stage 1: Put it aside.

Take the manuscript and put it in a drawer ... for 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months ... whatever you can stand. Start a new project, catch up on a little reading, maybe take up art by drawing in the dust that has accumulated on the furniture while you were writing.

What you're doing is putting some distance between you and your writing, so that when you take your red pen to it, you'll be able to view it more objectively. It won't be so immediate, so precious. And cutting it won't seem like self- surgery. You might even be able to edit it as if it had been written by someone else.

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