Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting it together

If you recall last week I said I was going to help in the organizing area of things – or try to.   
A good place to start would be after your manuscript is complete... 
It’s finished and you are more than happy with everything your mind and muse have come up with to complete it.  So now what?  You proof it and then proof it three more times!  Is it ready to send?  No.  Even if you’re an editor, proof-reader or whiz with grammar you still need to take a short break from it (at least a week) and then read it again or send it off to a crit partner(s).  I have even used friends and relatives in a pinch (those that are going to give me more feedback than “It’s great.”)  Why do this?  You are too close to the story and while reading it your brain is automatically going to insert the correct words whether they are actually there or not.  I have laughed myself silly when someone has pointed out the messed sentences I have written and read more than ten times without seeing the mistakes.  One story of mine made it all the way through submission read, contracted and to the editor before a name error was noticed.  I had put the name of a character from one of my other stories in it instead of my main characters name!  Having someone else read it will also confirm that those quirky lines and complex scenes make as much sense the way you wrote them as they sounded in your head. 
What next?  You get your synopsis written and polished up.  I keep waiting for the publisher that will say they really don’t need to see one – but I think that’s one of those fantasy moments my imagination has, because it’s never going to happen!!  I dread the synopsis.  I can write 200+ pages without missing a beat, but trying to summarize it all in 2-5 pages is worse than doing !  If you plotted your story and stuck to the plot before writing it, then you’re half way there when it comes to the synopsis ... however if you are anything like I am and are a pantser that has no definite plot or a muse that takes your characters far away from the idea you had plotted out, then you have some work to do. During the 5th to last read through of my story I jot down points that I’m going to put in my synopsis from each chapter.  After this it’s a matter of writing it in a way that makes sense.  It doesn’t have to be a literary work of art, the publisher wants the details not a ‘left hanging’ kind of summary – generally its 2-5 pages but the length will depend on how complex the story is.
Polish this up and make sure it is error free and you’re only a few more steps from submitting to a publisher.

Until next time...


Sabrina Shields said...

so far I'm also a fan or reading my WIP out loud. Reading it out loud is helping me find areas where readers might stumble over words and phrases or where I've used the wrong word.

Nice post!

Rosalie Stanton said...

One of my closest friends, and a critical one at that, as proofed all the chapters I've completed to date. She's line-editing, more or less, which is a great help to me. I'm also eager to send this off to my CP once it's complete. (Less than 10k now!)

Great article!

Jacqueline Paige said...

I have never tried reading it out loud ... I might have to give that a try when I have time, Sabrina.

There should be a special day named for those that help us go through our writing, Rosalie, don't you think?

Rosalie Stanton said...

Reading aloud has actually helped me a lot in the past, though I haven't done it in a while. It is a great piece of advice.

And yes. Our friends, CPs, and cheerleaders very much need a special day of their own.

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