Tweak It, But Don’t Bruise It.

It’s not always easy for a writer to say goodbye to the story they’ve worked on for months or even years. We work our way through the first draft and any number of other drafts deemed so very necessary. We head into edits, cutting away and adding new scenes. We look for perfection in our manuscript. It needs to be perfect, right? How can you send it off into the publishing world if it isn’t?

But how do we know when to stop tweaking? When do we decide it’s good enough?

Seems no matter how many times we go through a manuscript we can find something to change, something that can be made better. We switch around sentences, check on grammar, work on punctuation, fix the dialogue, and once we’ve gone through it for the last time we end up going through it again. Sound familiar?

While tweaking is a essential to any story there’s a point where we have to decide that enough is enough. At some point we have to release that tight grip we have on our manuscript and trust that somehow our story will end up on the right editor’s desk.

Can a manuscript be bruised?
I suppose that depends upon the person who’s doing the tweaking, but I feel certain in saying that at some point we can push our stories over the edge. Too much polishing can take off that lustrous shine. Tweaking a manuscript is essential; bruising it however might be considered abuse. But let’s not be judgemental, we’ve all been there at one time or another.

I’m in the tweaking stage at the moment, getting down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve rolled up my sleeves. It won’t be long now I’ve promised myself, and I plan to stick to it. It’s ready. I’m ready. That’s just how it has to be.

I’m going to make sure not to leave my poor manuscript bruised beyond the point of recognition. I don’t want to wake up one day, read through that story I started out with
one last time, only to realize it’s no longer the same story I fell in love with so many months ago.

How about you, do you think at some point you can bruise your precious manuscript or do you think that there’s no such thing as too much tweaking?

How Honest Are You?

Okay, say your mom/dad/sister/brother/cousin/aunt/uncle—you get the picture—hands you their newly finished manuscript to read. They’ve toiled and slaved over it for months, they put heart and soul into it. It’s their baby. You read it and it’s okay but doesn’t blow your mind. You’ve read better, you might even have read worse. Or worse case scenario it sucks to high heaven and you have to force yourself through to the end. (That’s if you can make it through without ripping out your hair.)

Do you know where this is going?

Would you be able to truthfully own up to the fact that it really wasn’t your cup of tea or would you be like those family members from American Idol who tell their loved ones how great they are when their singing truly sucks?

I’ve been thinking about this since having sent one of my manuscripts to someone recently, wondering if it’s not putting this person in an awkward position.

I’ve never critiqued any one’s work before. To be quite truthful I don’t know if I could be 100% honest if I didn’t like it at all, and maybe I’d try to talk myself into liking it more than I did especially if it was written by a family member.

I guess I’m wondering how people who offer critiques can do so honestly without fear of crushing someone’s dream?

I have to think that if the person in question were another writer looking for honest feedback it would be much easier than someone who was just hoping to have some validation for their work.

For those who have critiqued another’s work are you brutally honest if you just don’t like the story or do you sprinkle dollops of praise in with the criticism? If the person just couldn’t write worth beans would you discourage them from writing at all? And yet, what if the writing is good but the story wasn’t your kind of story? We’ve all come across those books. Does the fact that I don’t like something mean it shouldn’t be published?

Sorry for the many questions. Just a few things I’ve been mulling over in my mind. I wouldn’t mind hearing what your thoughts are on this.

Move Along…Move Along

We write it. We edit it. We polish it until it shines like spun gold. We protect it like a mother bear, but at some point we have to let go. We have to loosen our grip, put that story into an envelope, add postage, say a little prayer, and send it on its way.

Sending that manuscript out into the world is not much easier than sending our first born off to college. At least when our kids go off we hear from them on a regular basis. We find out if they’re eating properly, attending class regularly, and not partying too much during the week. (Okay so, I’m a bit deluded about the partying bit, but you get my drift.)When that manuscript leaves our fingers it is many, many months until we hear from it again. It could even be a year or *gasp* even two. (Yes, I did say two.) See why we writers are such an insecure bunch?

So now it’s gone. The house is quiet again. The merry sound of a keyboard slapping in the middle of the night has come to an abrupt halt. We mourn a little for those characters who have consumed our lives for so many months or years. It’s only natural to be a bit sad. We’ve finally come to the end. We’re standing in that empty house saying, “Now what?”

At this point the only thing we can do is take a deep breath and move on. Hopefully, another story has been prodding us, and with any luck we were smart enough to jot down some notes along the way while we’re facing the fact that we’re not likely to hear from our manuscript for a good long while.

There’s no point in becoming too emotionally wrapped up in the release of our manuscript. You know that saying “If you love something set it free….” Of course in this case we only want it to come back it it’s been accepted for publication and we’re working on edits. Right?

So back to the beginning of my post.—We write it. We edit it. We polish it until it shines like spun gold. We loosen our grip, send it on its way—

And then we move along.

It’s really our only option. Isn’t it?

Do you find it difficult to let go of your work and send it off into the big scary world on its own?

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