A groom took his new bride by the hand. “Now that we’re married, dear…I hope you won’t mind if I mention a few little defects I’ve noticed about you.”
“Not at all,” the bride said. “it was those little defects that kept me from getting a better husband.”
Defects, snafus, imperfections, issues: we’ve all got them. Some of us are loaded with them. And so are our manuscripts. Try as we might, we are unable to create the perfect manuscript. There will still be the overused words, muddled phrases, unneccessary speaker attributions, blurry POV issues, and on and on and on the list could go.
So what do we do about it?
We get fresh eyes to look over our work. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was from an agent who told me to have a freelance editor look over my project before I submitted it to anyone. And that’s exactly what I did. In fact, I’ve done it for both books I’ve written so far on my writing journey. The experience was eye-opening and skin-thickening to say the least. And I loved it!
The editor’s red ink alerted me to mistakes that I hadn’t noticed before. I learned that I have a crazy fascination with the word “that.” And in my first manuscript at least, I had an allergy to contractions and an addiction to speaker attributions. Once I was made aware of these things I just slapped my forehead and said, “Of course!” And there were the other red-inked areas of concern that I didn’t know were defects at all. It truly was one of the most inspiring learning experiences ever.
Writer, relax in the knowledge that ALL writers produce imperfect manuscripts. Be humble, teachable, and respectful of the craft, and you will grow as a writer.
Having other people look at your work is essential. They will see things you missed, or were unwilling to cut. No, there is no perfect editor. They are giving you educated advice, but they can be wrong too. You may have to try a few to find one whose personality meshes with yours, or who has the ability to hear your “voice” and understand your intent. But it is worth the effort. (The dark side of this experience will be a topic for another post).
What mistakes do you make in your writing? Remember confession is good for the soul…or at least good for a laugh. And it helps other writers know that mistakes are just part of the journey. Share a comment about your writing weaknesses and “defects”. Thanks!