Committing to Manuscript Improvement


(Source)Recently, Rach Writes posted a quote from a post written by Mary Kole titled Big Revision on Kidlit.com. One line (two, for those of you who want to get technical) in particular, clarified the difference between sort of being committed to revising a manuscript and complete commitment to manuscript improvement.

“Let me say it here once and for all: unless you make big changes, a revision isn’t worth doing. If you go out on a submission round and get roundly rejected, you’re not going to solve your problem by going back to the page to tweak a few words here and there.” – Mary Kole

During the first rounds of the editing process, writers:

  • fix typos
  • correct grammar errors
  • correct punctuation errors
  • ensure characters are believable and consistent from beginning to end
  • double-check for plot holes
  • make sure readers are well-oriented with the setting
  • include the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch [and where applicable sixth sense]) into each scene
  • etc.

This process yields a polished manuscript ready to submit to agents, editors, or publishers depending on the authors career goals. Sometimes, even after the daunting task of revisions, fundamental changes to the manuscript are necessary.

This is where Mary Kole’s advice comes into play. It takes total commitment to improve a manuscript. Writers have to be willing to let go of carefully selected words, beautiful prose, even entire pages for the good of the manuscript. When something in the story isn’t working, we can’t just change a few words in hopes of making it better. We must put in the effort and do the hard word to fix it, even if that means throughout portions of the story and starting fresh.

This week, DearEditor.com is hosting a Revision Week where eight prolific, bestselling, award-winning authors give insight to their revision process. One of my favorite questions the Editor asks is about the most drastic thing an authors have done. Some major thinking outside of the box. I’ve learned much through their interviews.

Has your work ever needed major revisions? Care to summarize why and how you fixed it? How do you know when to put down the proverbial red pen?