Shh… Manuscript Sleeping!

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So, the other day, I typed the words THE END at the bottom of draft 1 of The Dare Club. fortunately these days I’m experienced enough to know that this isn’t the end at all. Weeks of revision lie ahead of me, but it’s still a good feeling to have spewed all that raw material out so I have something to work on.

When I first started writing – a sweet little story called Star Love aimed at Mills and Boon – I sent the manuscript off almost straight away. I was just too excited to wait. Not surprisingly, it bounced back within 3 months. (These days it would probably take a year, but that’s a different story!)

Now I have plenty of experience of working with editors, and I’m used to typing the words Draft Six, or even Draft Seven beneath the book title. It’s not a reflection on quality, merely part of the process.

For me, another part of the process is leaving my first draft to brew so that I can approach it with fresh eyes. If I don’t do this, then I haven’t got the necessary courage to be ruthless, or the distance to notice plot errors or even typos. In her blog post At First Draft: The 6 (Minimum) Steps to Revising Your Manuscript before Submission, Amy of Wise Ink says that, after finishing a first draft, a writer is: “… in the woods without a map, and the overcast clouds are covering the sun so you have no idea how to find true north.” I think that’s true. Her 6 steps are really helpful – check out the link.

So, what am I going to do while The Dare Club is brewing? Well, I have 3 working weeks left until my son and I fill our time with parks and days out during the summer holidays, so guess what? I’m returning to another sweet romance I started a while back. And while I’m gone, what will my characters in The Dare Club be doing, I wonder? A lot more daring things, I imagine. What’s that you say? They’re not real? they only exist in my head? No! I can’t accept that at all! They make decisions for themselves all the time! In fact, I think they’re having a party right now – I’m sure I can hear music coming from the computer… 🙂

www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk

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8 thoughts on “Shh… Manuscript Sleeping!

  1. With nonfiction, I immediately start to reread and rewrite, but fiction needs time to rest, and so does the author. You must be able to read the work as if it were not yours. Thanks for the article, Margaret. Good thoughts, great reminder. All the best.

  2. I’m big on distance, distance and writer critique groups. When I finish a book, I put it through my Crit groups in the hope they will do what Crit groups should do: tear the thing apart. When they do so, I take many notes, then put both the book and the notes in storage for some extended period of time no less than two weeks. In actual practice, the down time clocks in at more like six months or a year. What do I do in the intervening time? Write another story, sometimes two. That way, having gone through the wringer with a whole different group of characters and plot, when I pick up the other story for a second edit I can see it from a fresh angle. Sometimes on that second time around, I’ve been so involved with other tales, I don’t even know what’s going to happen! That’s cool. And fresh.

  3. Definitely give it at least a fortnight between re-writes. When I’m doing mine, by the time I get to the end of the 1st re-write, it’s at least a fortnight until I looked at the beginning anyway! I don’t work with an editor, so I’ve learned to re-write properly – every single sentence is looked at ->> could that be more succinct? Is that necessary? I’ve written a lot of novels now, not all of which I considered good enough for publication, and, as with any other skill, you get better and quicker at the editing. But yes – I do, usually, write the whole thing first. I add a great deal in the 1st re-write (even down to changing the plot slightly), as I write sparsely anyway and am not one for superfluous stuff, so I have to add rather than take away!!

  4. Hi, Terry, thanks for this! I’m intrigued – what sort of thing do you find you have to add? For me it’s usually a sense of place. I get so caught up in the story this can suffer. In The Dare Club, I want to have a strong flavour of Norfolk, but it has to be relevant. 🙂

  5. I find the first draft tough, and slow as I’m easily distracted. Once the first draft’s out, I can’t be pulled away! I think it’s great advice to let your manuscript brew, it’s amazing how blind we become when it’s too familiar. Thanks for visiting my site, Margaret – The Dare Club sounds like fun.

    • Thanks, Gemma! I’m raring to get back to it next week, after a long break during the school holidays. I did let one of my beta readers read it, and her comments have made me itch to get started. Yay!

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