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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Completing Your Manuscript

Endless months and months of preperation and writing have come together and you've just completed your manuscript.
Throwing your hands in the air, you let out a loud scream of victory and announce to the world "I've finished!"
You put your feet up, sit back and relax, because after all - "That's it!" - surely? Time to relax.
Sorry guy's - No way. It's far from over.
This is where - perhaps for the first time ever - you learn the value of checking.
Please - if you listen to nothing else, listen to this.

Perhaps you remember me mentioning, that when I'm writing, I go back over the text and read it slowly, word for actual word.
Is it correct, does it sound right, feel right, is it tight?
When I've done that, I read it again for "flow". Is it natural or do I sound like I've swallowed a dictionary and am having an attack of excessive verbosity.
As I'm writing, I check, check, and check again.
So - when we get to this stage, I have nothing to do? Wrong!

As I write this blog, I'm just coming to the end of my first edit to my second book.
I finished the book - or perhaps I should more accurately say - I completed the first draft just over two weeks ago.
Since then I've been going through it, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, scene by scene, chapter by chapter.
By the end of this week I should have finished the first revision.
It can be very annoying to find you've missed words out - but you will find that.
You will also discover where the slip of a finger has misspelt the word you intended to write. (And the auto correct/highlighter didn't pick it up).
Just goes to show - don't trust it - check it yourself.
Read it through - word by word.
Read it again naturally.
Something doesn't feel/sound right? look at it again and everything around it.
It's hard, repetitive, tedious work.
That's why I make a schedule and stick to it.
I take regular breaks to keep my mind fresh, because if you allow yourself to get tired, it's amazing the way your brain will fill in missing or misspelt word for you (Like a bio-autocorrect function).
When I've finished, guess what? - YUP - I will do it again. (although at this stage I will also send it to proof readers, and ask them to highlight everything they find.)
Depending on how many people you have - send them sections at a time - so you don't end up with a manuscript that is near perfect at the beginning and shoddy at the end.

Sounds obvious?
You would be surprised how many make the mistake of sending off their manuscripts without having thoroughly checked them.

But it's not all bad news.... To keep yourself fresh, this is a good time to narrow down your list of Literary Agents and or Publishers - AND - It's a great time to construct your synopsis.
Let's chat about that next time.

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