Remember Me?

I’m back! Didja miss me?

After four weeks of a flash fiction class where we had homework every week, another week of preparing to teach a class for a friend, and three weeks of non-stop editing/re-reading/re-editing, I’ve finally sent off my latest draft to the next round of readers. Now I’m at a point where I can take a break. And I plan to do just that. (hah!) After this week. Because I promised to critique another two short pieces for friends.

I must say that editing is sometimes a real challenge. In this latest round of revisions, I needed to:

• completely rewrite my opening scene
• write two new scenes from scratch to fill in a timeline gap
• flesh out my main character’s motivation by showing her doing what she was talking about
• show more action in a few of the scenes where critical plot points are taking place
• cut some scenes that weren’t working/served no real purpose
• fix inconsistencies—i.e. character a says one thing in chapter 5, but something else in chapter 10
• remove bits that rehashed something I’d already made clear

Sometimes, it’s not so hard. A few could be accomplished with global find and replace options in the software. Here are a few of the smaller things on my list:

• change some character names that were too similar
• change words that used unfamiliar diacritical characters

If you’ve revised a lengthy manuscript before, you know it’s never “finished” – not until it’s on the shelf at the local bookstore, or at your local library. Every round of revisions makes it a stronger story, more compelling, more polished. I can see it happening before my eyes.

It’s difficult, on occasion, to “kill one’s darlings,” especially if they’ve been in every draft since the beginning. But I’ve heard time and again from writers more experienced than I that if a particular piece of the manuscript isn’t serving the story, if it isn’t essential to the clarity of the plot, take it out. I’m not sure I can see what can go and what must stay any more, but I do know many publishing houses won’t take a manuscript that’s over 100K words, especially for a first-time writer like me. So I still need to hack. And slash. With an axe. Thus this round of readers will (hopefully) help me see where I can safely do that without sacrificing story quality.

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over, as they say. So I’m taking advantage of this little “break.” I’m hopeful that once this next collection of input is incorporated, I’ll be able to query. I’ll keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, I’m not on any deadlines, and can walk in nature, read a book, take a nap, watch the telly, whatever I want. It feels so good—like a mini-vacation! Writers, you know.

I hope to be able to post more regularly for at least the foreseeable future. ‘til next week!

“Woman Working by a Window,” by Andrew Neel
“Cut” by Mel Poole
Photos courtesy of Unsplash