Sep 01 2012

Something One Should Never Do, In My Opinion, As An Author

Posted by Mathias in Editing, The Writing Process

It is oh so tempting as an unpublished author, especially one trying to complete your first manuscript, to read a TON about what advice others have with regards to what should be in the pages of a novel. You want to know how to edit it. You want to know if you are shooting yourself in the foot because your manuscript is too long for what publisher are looking for. You will even come across discussions of certain fetish words people insist are simply wrong to use.

That’s not only natural, but I think good for an aspiring author to do. Learning how to separate the gold from the dross when it comes to this advice is another matter, but you’ll learn that in due course as I have. For example, I even once read an absurd article about how people just don’t like first person narratives and such stories cannot be successful! Uh hello! Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Or how about that recent best seller The Hunger Games?

One thing you shouldn’t do, in my opinion, is set down and start editing your manuscript immediately after reading one of these sorts of articles. First of all, as I said, you need time to digest what has been said. Undoubtedly, you’ll have some knee jerk reactions that will lead you to take the advice you have just read as an absolute, which it rarely, if ever, is. As a side point, anyone who offers advice to writers that begins with “always” or “never” generally doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Should you immediately rush off and start editing your manuscript, your baby, after reading an advice laden article you are going to start tearing up your work and overreacting. Everything, even things not talked about the tongues of fire that you have listened to, will seem wrong to your eyes. You are likely to panic. You are likely to do things that you will later wish you didn’t.

I know, I’ve been there and done that. But, thankfully, I always save my previous version so I can go back and undo all those ill-conceived changes.
Take your time. Think about what has been said. Let it pass into your mind. Then edit as you normally would. I think things turn out better that way.

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