We humans can hear a piece of advice 500 times before we actually take it.
Such was the case with me. I'd heard famous writer after famous writer talk about setting a manuscript aside after the completion of a first draft or major rewrite to gain enough distance that when re-reading the manuscript, problems will jump out at you. I decided to try the method.
I set my manuscript aside on Aug. 8. Over the next month I did many other things I hadn't done for the last 36 months, like spring cleaning my house a year late and taking my son to lunch for his 15th birthday (he turned 16 in June). All the while, I both itched to take a peek at the manuscript and loathed the idea, the problem stated as this question:
I love the story, but what if, after such a time investment, I still hate the way I've written it?
Unable to take the suspense any longer, on Fri., Sept. 3 — admittedly, more than a few days shy of a full month — I created a document titled "rewrite notes 9/10."
To read through my manuscript within a few days to get a sense of:
3. believable and organic change within characters
4. consistent, escalating tension
My two rules
1. To write all my comments and suggestions for change on the rewrite document
2. To keep my cursor out of the story instead of allowing myself to start making changes, and so get bogged down
How I faired
I finished the manuscript Monday morning.
• I failed miserably at rule number two and had to keep slapping my own hand, the urge to tweak tremendous.
• All the painstaking effort to thoroughly structure each scene paid off. Except for three chapters that require some reorganization, the story flows as it should.
• I compiled 10 pages of comments about specific aspects. General comments boil down to these: There's way too much mention of beating/racing hearts and bodily shaking. In a number of places I still have too much telling. I caught about five cliches. Sometimes I fail to successfully describe where people are in relation to one another. The motivation behind certain gestures and responses is unclear.
Now that I know I haven't completely failed, I'm once again up to my elbows in the writing, which is like dessert 24/7. Mm.
Who else has done this before?
Do tell, and while you tell, tell what you found.