I think all writers have hiccups, although I have no scientific proof - those little things we do without even noticing we’re doing them. We can even go back, edit, and still not see those hiccups.
Last Fall, I attended a workshop lead by Russ Hall, a great author and wonderful mentor to up and coming authors. The workshop was called Getting Published. Each participant submitted to him ahead of time a query letter and opening pages of a current manuscript.
At the time I was not actually working on any manuscript except the nonfiction book I was under contract for, so I came up with an idea and whipped out the pages with only days to spare before the deadline, did a quick read-through and sent it in. Turns out Russ not only read all the submissions, he handed them over to his editor to read.
When I had my private session with Russ, he told me his agent really liked the story… until she got to page four. I lost her there. Why? Because I hiccupped.
I quickly scanned page four and saw she was right. I had hiccupped big time.
What was my hiccup? In that one page, I had used the word “she” fourteen times. How had I missed seeing that? I was rushing? Maybe. Probably because that word, until it was pointed out to me, was invisible. As I re-read before submitting, it didn’t register. It was invisible until I began to circle “she” on the page.
When I’m editing, something like this would have caught my attention in someone else’s manuscript. In my work, I knew the words so intimately that I glided on past the problem.
This is why you need to have someone else look at your work - a trusted friend, an editor, a critique partner. If you don’t have any of those, try recording it then listening back.
2 months ago