Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Posted by Linda
Hemingway said there are two processes for writing - get it down, then go back and get it right. Polishing the manuscript means more than correcting misspelled words, eliminating adjectives and adverbs or working on flow. Redefine revision to "creating and refining thoughts". Many authors spend countless hours, days and years perfecting a manuscript. James Joyce spent 20,000 hours writing Ulysses and 17 years on Finnegans Wake. No wonder they are classics.

Rewriting replaces adverbs and adjectives with nouns and verbs that better express your meaning. You catch mistakes. You punch the prose. While you correct the small things, keep your mind tuned to possible radical improvements. Toss the first paragraph, page, chapter if it doesn't truly begin the story. Perhaps the middle drags. Punch it up by thinking of new directions, conflicts, or characters’ reactions.

Look at revision as RE-VISION. During the rewriting process, take yourself away from the manuscript for an hour, a day, or a month - whatever it takes to look at it with new eyes. Your new vision surprises you with easy fixes. You’ll go in new directions or even change the structure and end up with a higher quality of writing. That first draft acts as the foundation on which you build a better product. It reminds me of looking for a lost object. I may overlook the thing several times before I find it right in plain sight.
When does rewriting end? Sometimes you'll find it hard to cut your beautiful words. However, will you remember what you cut in a few days? Make sure everything fits with the story. Take out those "show-off phrases" you love. Listen to reader feedback. But, remember, you are not obligated to change all to please your critique readers. Take their suggestions to heart, consider if they make a manuscript better or if the manuscript becomes another person's voice.

An author discovers she can always tweak her work because it is never perfect! Realize that, at one point, you must cut the apron strings, print the document, and let the baby go.

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