Tag Archives: red ink

The Perfect Manuscript

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!

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Editor: Coach, Mentor, Friend

I just sent my manuscript to the freelance editor. It’s a game of ping-pong we play where she marks several chapters, emails them to me, and then I make or reject the suggestions. Once I’m done with the section under scrutiny, I email it back to her, and off we go.

I’ve always found the process of creating a story to be an exciting thrill-ride, but the editing experience is just as exhilarating for me. Maybe I’m weird–don’t respond to that–but seeing the story I love become sharper and stronger is amazing. Sometimes I see the things that the editor has marked and want to bang my head on the table and cry out, “why didn’t I see that?”

Okay…a tad dramatic, but you get the point. When I submit my story to “fresh eyes”, I’m doing the story a favor. The fact is, I’m too close to my story to see all the weaknesses. I’ve had people read the story and very often they spot something that I missed.

I have to decide whether I’m after an ego boost or a story boost. Can I take the red ink professionally or will I only take it personally? Is this about me or story? Do I trust the editor?

When I open God’s Word, or feel the conviction of His Spirit in my life, I’m faced with a similar choice. Will I see the Christian life as about me or for Him? Will I trust that His corrections in my life are for the best, according to His purposes?

What is God working on in your life?

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