Revising An Old Manuscript

 

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.

Thirty-two.

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.

*sigh*

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?

What happened?

 

Write Time in scenes by Janice Seagraves

 

Writing Time In Scenes

by Janice Seagraves

 

Hi, my name is Janice Seagraves.

Today, I thought I’d talk about time in writing. I don’t mean the day or week or month, but the speed in which things happen. Have you ever had someone tell you that your scene went too fast or maybe the opposite, your scene was very slow? And not in a good way.

Here’s some tips on how to fix that.

First, if your scene is going fast, you can odd more detail to slow it down. Believe me this trick works. Don’t know what to add in? Then I suggest describing what is happening in minute detail. Add in colors, textures, how things smell. Was the scent in the area nice, sour, or did it smell like something died? Maybe there is a background buzz that is irritating or soothing one of your characters? Add in details in all its glory: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Go deeper into your characters’ feelings. Add a pause as something else happens.

I had a scene that my critique partners said went too fast, so I added in more detail, more feelings, and more internal dialogue of one of the main characters. Then as they headed out, I wrote a pause. The heroine speaks to someone, while the hero is chumping at the bit to get her walking again then takes her arms and drags her down the road. And having one character wanting to leave the area, while the other is speaking to a secondary character can make the scene tense.

If you need to speed up a scene, then you’ll need to lose some of the detail. One time I added what in the business is called a ticking clock to speed things up. One of the characters is urging the others to hurry. His frustration shows whenever anything slows down. Have the characters speak in quick, short bursts.  One liners. No long dialogues. And if there is only two characters, you can leave off some of the dialogue tags. No one ambles anywhere in this scene. It’s all dashing, sprinting, and doing things fast.

How to write a critique

 

How to write an honest critique

By Janice Seagraves

 

The first publisher I worked with suggest that I work with a critique group to help improve my writing. Since then, I’ve been working on critiques nearly every couple of weeks for the last ten years. And in that time, I’ve gone through five critique groups and I even took a workshop on critiquing.

Here are some things to consider if you have been asked to do a critique or are doing critiques or possibly beta reading someone’s work.

Please keep in mind that this is someone’s baby.

They most probably have slaved away at this manuscript for months if not years.

So be kind.

They may not have ever had any feed back on their work before this.

Say nice things about the pages or manuscript you’re working on.

If you find misspelled words, simply correct it within the pages and move on, or leave a comment in a comment bubble: “I think you mean this word.” Everyone at some point will have problems misspelling a word or using a word that spelled just a little different than the word that they mean to use. Or maybe it’s a typo. We all have those brain fart moments. Don’t make a big deal about it. Just correct the spelling and move on.

One of the moderators for a critique group I work with likes to say, “Sugar and spice. Mark what you like as well as what needs work.”

If nothing else, compliment the genre they chose to write their story in.

I find that if you compliment the writer first, then they are more likely to consideration the changes you are suggesting.

And remember, it’s suggestions. You are producing a critique and they didn’t hire you to be an editor.

All critiques should be in the body of the pages you’re working on.

Use the comment bubbles in edit format.

I always go through the story first before I write a note at the start of the pages.

The note will usually start with why I like their story.

For example: Vampires stories are a very popular right now. Or I love your characters. I can totally picture them. Or this scene was very exciting and really grabbed  me.

Next, I’ll drop down to a new paragraph and write: Good Job. 😊

And then I’ll start another paragraph that usually begins with: and now for the critique.

Sometimes I’ll write that their pages were well written, and I only needed to mark a few things here and there. That will relax and ease your critique partner. Up to his point they might be really tense.

And then I’ll go to things I noticed.

Things to watch out for.

Maybe it was: You used look and looked a lot so I highlighted all I could find.

And then I’ll finish the note with this disclaimer: This is my opinion only. Please take it with a grain of salt. Use what works and toss the rest. And with every critique your mileage will vary.

Janice~

 

Editing your work

Normally, editors want your work to be as polished as you can make it, before they set eyes on it. 

That means: No typos. No grammar mistakes. Correct word usage. And they especially don’t want to see a first draft.

Then they find what you miss, but they can’t write the book for you. They just don’t have the time for that.

To get your work as polished as possible, I suggest a critique group, beta reader, or critique partner. 

Critique groups are great for finding: Grammar mistakes. Wrong word usage. And making suggestions on improving your work.

What they can’t do is see the bigger picture, because they get it one piece at a time. 

If you want someone to see the whole thing, then you need a beta reader or a critique partner. 

Beta readers: Read the entire MS and make suggest for the plot and such. They can also point out continuity errors. 

But they don’t fix grammar problems. 

Critique partners: You trade work. They will take a chapter of yours for a chapter of their’s to do a critique on. Some people prefer this approach to polishing their work.


For more help on what an editor does, check out these links:


 



There is no hard and fast rule to writing a book. However, you need to make your manuscript as professional as possible before you let an publisher see it. 

Another suggestion is to take classes online. There are even classes to help you work on your manuscript. 

Some free online classes:



Some of these you have to pay for: