Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ABC's of Writing - (Q)uit Fixing Your Manuscript

Your story will never be perfect!

There, I said it! But before we just leave it at that, let me explain what I'm talking about here.

For many authors, there is this tendency to want to keep going over and over their manuscripts in an effort to make them better. They tweak and twist the stories. They add scenes, delete other scenes and wordsmith the story to death. The problem is that the constant tweaking simply results in a lack of forward movement with their writing careers.

Now, I know what many of you are saying. "But Scott! You tell us and so do all of the other agents and editors to send a project that is 100% ready to go! We have to constantly check these stories out or you will reject them!"

Unfortunatly, I think many of you are missing the message we are saying here. Yes, you need to have your story solid and ready to go. Yes, we want to see your best writing. But there is a point when you simply are over-working the story too much and the result is a story that isn't close to what you intended in your project.

I do think think, IMHO, that many authors do this because they are mentally not ready to make the jump to "professional writing." I have no problem with not taking the leap when you aren't ready. In fact, I encourage it! But, with that said, I do recommend not taking the time to keep tweaking that current work, but to move on to something new. Heck, you might have 20 stories done before you are ready to become that "professional writer." So what?

My grandfather was an artist and when he was teaching me to draw, the one thing he constantly stressed was to stop "tweaking the picture." There will be a point that you simply do too much too it and then the picture you wanted to create is ruined. The same goes for writing.

So, how do you know it is finished? When you read through the story and your gut tells you it is finished. If all you keep saying is, "but if I did this it could be better" you might be slipping into that dangerous zone of over editing. You have to ask yourself, is the scene or that chapter fine as it is. Yes, you could add something that would make it better, but we have to examine the current words. Is, what you have, solid and strong. If so, leave it. Keep that scene for later. Your editor or agent might want you to add it.

1 comment:

  1. This one really struck home for me. I'm on edit number six in my search for perfection. My OCD is kicking into overdrive in a very unhealthy way.