Thursday, October 25, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Letting your manuscript stew

Take one first draft.
Well done.
Leave to stew for a week, minimum.
Then take one pair of fresh eyes, one pair of eager hands with itchy fingers to type and a fresh perspective, re-open and start the editing process.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Wrong! If you're like me, it's hard to walk away from a manuscript, especially one just finished. Though exhausted, your mind is still buzzing with ideas, you're still in the characters' heads, the setting is still vivid and you want to get this baby off to your editor ASAP.
Instead, let it stew. The longer the better. There's nothing like tackling a first draft with a completely fresh outlook, and with the benefit of time away from the story.
It's too easy to get caught up in your plot or too close to your characters and after a while you can't see the pitfalls, the holes and the glaring mistakes. This is why time away is essential, especially if you don't have a critique partner to pick up a lot of this stuff for you in later drafts.
Fresh eyes brings fresh perspective, an eagerness to layer, and the all important clarity to make your story the best it can be.
So do what I do. Immerse yourself in the rest of your life. Keep busy. (You can give the sleepless nights a miss!) Read. Have fun.
And then take those itching fingers back to the keyboard and start the writing process all over again!!
(More on layering next week, when I actually get stuck back into COURTING CUPID.)

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