Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It's hard to let go...of your manuscript that is.


        Although I have 15 published books, in various genres, for me creating a story still requires rewriting, several editorial passes, and I still don't want to let it go.

     I’m also a slow writer, pantser/plotter. I cherish the fantasy of becoming more of a plotter, but even if I were, stories and character have a knack for surprising me with twist and turns which leads to more…re-writing.                                     

              Historicals especially demand research, (which I enjoy) so a timeline of important dates, who’s who in the country of choice, and what is happening in the rest of the world can be crucial. But like gathering the ingredients for making a cake, a lot can go wrong or change between accumulating this information and producing a baked good resembling the picture included with the recipe. 



     Once I have a suitable draft, I go through to make sure I’ve used all the senses. Back to the cake example, did I sample a smidgen of dough from the mixing spoon, see it rise, enjoy the aroma, brush against the oven and feel the heat, and jump when I heard the timer bell go off.  Did I give the reader all these human experiences as they pertained to the actual story? And did I do this actively, in deep point of view, showing not telling!


          Another pass might include replacing some dialog tags, he said/she said, with an action which still identifies the speaker, but adds insight into the character’s personality, mood, or the situation. This can also add to scene layering. Here is a great blog post by Rebecca Zanetti on scene layering


                 Editing out overused words is another challenge. The ones listed here, often result in telling not showing. Compile a list of the ones you use too often. Here’s my long list:

     The dreaded some words…sometimes, something, someone, somewhere, somewhat, somebody, somehow. Words ending in ing or ly. One of, that, it, really, to be, very, so, often, hear, remember, recall, notice, thought, realize, wonder, see, look, watch, think, know, believe, decide, feel, sigh, that, expression, headed, okay, well, too, also, should, few, just, only.

    In each book, I seem to glom onto one particular word and use it to excess. 

    My terrific editor is a stickler for never ending a sentence with “It”.  Not always and easy fix, but again replacing “it” with another word generally makes the offending sentence stronger, more interesting, and worth keeping.   

   I can obsess with fixing, editing, and rewriting. But like our finished cake, my manuscript has a shelf-life, and eventually my editor demands I give her the book! Letting our babies out into the world is scary. But if you’ve addressed some of these issues, the kid well probably be ready to survive anything. So, here's to happy writing, and I hope you find some of these ideas helpful. With each new book, I strive to grow more skillful at our craft. 


Gini's books include:
Western Romance: Break Heart Canyon * Undercover Outlaw * Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats * A Cowboy’s Fate * Special Delivery.
Contemporary Romantic Thriller: Fatal Recall
Medieval Romance: The Dragon and The Rose * Iron Heart * Promise Me Christmas.
Victorian Romance: Lady Gallant * Victorian Dream
Fantasy: The Fae Warriors Trilogy: Solace * Bliss * Portence

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Julie Lence said...

I am like you Ginni, thinking that one day I may be able to plot a story. Until then< I am a panster and a very slow writer, too.

GiniRifkin said...

I'm in good company then!