August 11, 2010 by Renee
Le sigh…Did that sound pathetic? Such a drama queen, aren’t I. I don’t feel pathetic, just a little tired and actually quite proud of where I’m at today…even if that includes tired.
I should explain. Right now I’m editing/rewriting a manuscript I finished way the heck back in early 2009. Took me long enough to get around to it, eh? Well, the problem is that after I finished, had a few generous souls read it, and tackled the long arduous process of editing based on their feedback, I realized that there was far more work needed than I was able to tackle at that point. So I shelved it. For a very long time.
So, more than a year’s worth of learning later, I attempted to edit it again. Well, I’ve learned enough to know that I didn’t know a damn thing about writing in early 2009. Well, I had enough instinct to plot a good story, create riveting characters (and that’s not being cocky, these characters are good) and to leave it there because if I did anything more to it, I’d ruin what good it did have. That’s not a little thing either, but in the world of writing, instinct is not even half enough. There are tons of creative souls out there who instinctively know what makes a good story, or what makes characters that leap off the page. The difference between those writers and the ones who get noticed is simply experience and knowledge. There are certain skills and techniques a fiction writer must acquire before they can write a publishable novel. By publishable I mean it has no crazy POV switches (head hopping if that makes more sense to you), no ridiculous flashbacks that pull the reader out just to add backstory (it should have few, if any, flashbacks at all and all need to be written correctly), the dialogue should be smooth without a multitude of unnecessary tags or stupid tags like ‘He growled fiercely while pulling her away from the chocolate pie.’, it isn’t passive or clunky or mind numbing, and it has realistic settings that are written so that the reader can smell the smoke from the burning house or see the sunset so beautifully painting the summer sky. And lets not forget things like grammar, punctuation, etc.
Those things require learning. They are not innate, they are not just something you’re born with and a writer must practice and screw up and practice and bash their head against the keyboard an indefinite amount of times before it becomes natural for them to write without having to really think about those things.
Am I there yet? Um…no. But I’m close. This manuscript I’m editing is leaps and bounds better than it was even a week ago. Although I’m not the one I should thank for much of that. I owe my learning and the improvements to this manuscript to others who are kind enough to teach me and not kill me when it takes several rounds of the same mistakes for me to ‘get it’.
Let’s not forget the half dozen manuscripts waiting for me to hack away at them as well so that they too can join me in the exquisitely joyous process of harassing and nagging publishers and agents. I’m thinking that this one will see the light of day soon. My fingers are crossed anyway because once I’m done with it, I don’t want to have to rewrite another damn word of this story again.
Want a taste? Sorry, it’s not quite ready for that yet.