Re-editing a manuscript (again and again)

Someone is editing my manuscript Daughters of Janus. When I got back the critique for the first 20 pages (my first chapter), I was overwhelmed. I looked at the comments, and realized that I would have to take a  sledgehammer to my manuscript and start from scratch! However, this is what I always wanted: someone who can be  ruthless in critiquing my work, to the point where my manscript is ripped to shreds. And I’m grateful for that.

I’m almost done re-editing the first chapter of Daughters of Janus. I’ve reread the rewritten chapter, and I have to say it’s quite an improvement over what I’ve written before. The manscript seems more organized in terms of setting description and character motivation/emotional response. I keep thinking, when am I ever going to see this manuscript published? It will take me a lifetime for me to edit this entire manuscript — just one manuscript! But I say to myself that I still have all the time in the world, and there is no rush to get this manuscript published. I’d rather take my time to improve the mansucript than to hastily self-publish it when it’s not ready.  

Plus, it takes hard work to acquire new practices and new habits. For example, I have to try harder to SHOW, and not TELL a story. Instead of saying that someone is angry, my editor John said that I should “paint a picture in the reader’s mind” about the look or action of anger, like clenched teeth, tensed forehead or breaking something. I also have to pay better attention to the setting of my story, give it some more detail so the reader would get an understanding of my characters’ environment.

Through this editing process, I have learned new things, which I’m happy to take with me into the future when I’m writing and editing.

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One comment

  1. You’ve put a lot of ideas forward:

    1. Show, not tell
    2. Paint a picture for the reader
    3. Setting the stage globally and locally for the character(s)

    I know it’s tough, but you can accomplish all 3. And you’re in the longest, slowest stage of manuscript production now. It gets faster in subsequent drafts (because you only look at specific items or chapters) and if you make it that far, querying is ridiculously simple.

    Expect more feedback in the next few days, my schedule opens up a lot after this evening, and you’re first on my pile of things to edit.

    j

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