jordanrosenfeld

You Already Know (What you need to do)

In Business of Writing, Craft, Writers on Revision on February 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm

When my clients send off their manuscript to me many of them will then embark on a 4 to 6 week-long process of agonizing. Some of them email me during the process, even though I say up front that I will only give feedback in total. They want to know if I hate it, love it, think they should give up altogether, or quit their day jobs. They fear what I am going to say.

It can be agony to wait, I know. Right now I’m doing the same thing with my own novel. Readers are reading it. Some have given me early feedback, bless them, but mostly on the first act. That leaves two acts hanging in the balance. And I am itching to revise because I’m still in the world of this book. No other project is calling me away. I’m not sick of it yet. I want to shape it to be as perfect as I am capable of getting it.

Yet as each bit of feedback rolls in, I have had the same reaction: Yes. Yes, you are so right. That does need condensing. She wouldn’t really say that. The language has been sacrificed for the action here…Some part of me knew that, and thought maybe I wouldn’t have to do it.

Most likely, you also know many of the problems with your own manuscript. Feedback is, then, a chance to validate what you suspect, to get evidence to support the change you know you must embark upon.  Sometimes we don’t want to see it. We are afraid of the work it will entail, and wonder if we can do it.

You can do it. You must, if you hope to be published.

But most likely, it’s no more work than you already imagined when you are honest with yourself (unless, I’m sorry to say, you have been deluding yourself all along).

So don’t be afraid. Get feedback. Revise. Start over.

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  1. The problems with my first two efforts to write a novel boil down to the basics of what you post here. Part of the problems stem from not really knowing what all I was doing, and then finding the problems as I learned more about the writing process. Maybe someday I’ll revisit them, but right now there are too many weeds in the garden to prune. I’d rather start fresh. I know I won’t get everything right, but it’ll be a darn site better than what came before it.

    –John

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