Revisiting an Old Manuscript
By Janice Seagraves
Hi, this is Janice Seagraves. I’ve the author of nine books and six short stories.
I wrote lots of stories before I was ever published. A lot of those book-length manuscripts were what I learned on. When you first start out you have to write and write and write so you can learn. And I was no different.
Twin Heart is an early book-length manuscript that I had learned on but had never forgotten. The characters in it feel like old dear friends.
Feeling nostalgic one day, I pulled Twin Heart’s file out and started revising it. I’ve learned a lot over the ten years since I wrote the manuscript and though I should be able to fix it, no problem.
It was a mess!
Missing punctuations, run-on sentences, and drifting POVs. Just to name a few.
I have a lot of work to do if I’m ever going to get my dear old friend up to snuff.
The first two chapters weren’t so bad, but the further along I dug the worse it got. Some chapters read like filler and didn’t further the plot or add anything to the storyline. And there are thirty-two chapters in my manuscript.
And over 115,000 words. My manuscript can certainly use some trimming.
Things I’m looking out for as I revise my manuscript:
- Fix common mistakes: errors in punctuation, repeated words, drifting POVs.
- Do the sentences make sense?
- Are too many sentences started with a -ing word?
- Do the sentences use it as a subject of the sentence instead of a noun?
- Are words spelled right or an I using a wrong word choice?
- Break down run-on sentences into smaller sentences.
- Delete unnecessary words.
- Kill my darlings.
- Read the manuscript out loud.
Once I get the problems taken care of, I’ll have to write out the manuscript chapter by chapter as if I was writing a synopsis so I can figure out what can stay and what can go.
The delete button has already become my friend.
Now, why did I start this project again?
Oh, yeah, dear old friends that are the characters in the manuscript.
At least the bones of the story are good. I just have to delete, rewrite, and make stronger a bunch of the bad sentences to make the good shine through.
Have you ever dragged out an old manuscript with designs on fixing it?