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 My favorite unpublished manuscript is getting another makeover.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?