Monday, September 2, 2013

Manuscript Cut and Paste: The Last and Final Version Forever and Ever

I'm at it again. My favorite unpublished manuscript is getting another makeover. My Labor Day weekend involves laboring over the novel of my heart that has caused me more heartache than anything I've ever written.

It's like falling in love and having the love of your life tell you it's time to break up. You cry and gnash your teeth, and your lover weakens and takes you back. All is well for a few months, and then it all falls apart again. It's over, but you can't accept it. You can't let go. You hang on, wailing and promising to do better.

That's what happened to me.

After seven rewrites, I finally realized I should have stopped way back at Version #3 and shifted from rewriting to simple editing. That's when I should have let go.

Here's what I'm doing now:

1. Retrieved Version #3 which is multiple point of view with the main character in first person and the remaining characters in third person (yes, I know that's not the recommended way to write a novel, but it's the way I want it to be).

2. Moved one of the final chapters to the front of the book and made it a prologue (yes, I know that some agents and editors don't like prologues, but I want this one).

3. Pulled the revised versions of the third person chapters, which have been edited, from Version #7 and inserted them into Version #3.

4.  Printed out the third person POV chapters for the main character from Version #7 so I can compare them to the first person chapters in Version #2 to see if any good editing changes can be used there.

5.  Print the new Version #8.

6.  Perform the comparison edit noted in #4 above and write in changes.

7.  Read the entire manuscript and make editing notes. Write additional scenes if needed.

8. Add the changes to my Word document. Do my usual word searches for those words I tend to overuse and make corrections. Look for passive language. Edit, edit, edit.

9.  Read the manuscript aloud from the computer screen. Fix, edit, fix, edit.

10. Print the manuscript and read it aloud from the paper version.

11. Do a final, final cleanup of formatting.

12. Save a copy of the final document in multiple places, including a flash drive and also sending it to myself as an e-mail attachment.

13. Submit, submit, submit.

Knowing when to stop and let go can be one of the hardest parts of writing and revising. Have you ever had a manuscript you couldn't stop revising until you'd revised the life out of it?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of work, but you can do it - just one little bit at a time.
And not all publishers hate prologues. Mine actually asked for one.

Karen Walker said...

We have to do what we have to do, don't we? I'm so glad you're doing this the way you need to do it, Patricia. Good luck. Alex is right. One bit at a time.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - I'm very glad you've made progress with your manuscript. And I know exactly what you mean about needling to learn when to let go and when to change things. Such a difficult decision!!! I'm glad you've made progress. Oh, and I love your analogy!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like you made a great diagnosis!

And I know what you mean...I've overwritten books before.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Yours certainly is a labor of love. And you are so right about knowing when to stop. It's not always an easy decision.

Yolanda Renee said...

I still want to go back and make changes. It's hard not to, but we do have to move on. Sounds like a plan and you're ready!

Julie Luek said...

Pat, I appreciate you breaking down and sharing your process. I like to learn what other writers do, including which rules they break, when and why. Very insightful and a heck of a lot of work! I will toast you in person soon!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for stopping in, everyone. It does feel good to finally have a solid plan after many months of mulling it over in my mind. Onward!

lizy-expat-writer said...

OMG! That sounds even more complicated than my current work - a rewrite in which I have changed the POV as well as the year I set the book in. Changing the year means historical research is necessary, and several chapters have to slot in between each other. Challenging!

April Moore said...

Well done, Pat! I'm excited to see this book in print, because as you know, this is also my favorite unpublished manuscript of yours too!