Saturday, March 23, 2013
Knowing When to Let Go (of Your Manuscript)
Writing can be like raising kids. There's always that struggle with wanting to get a story out there and to hold on and polish it some more. It's sort of like raising kids—you want them to grow up and take on the world, but you want to keep guiding and advising "just a little longer!" You remind your kids to wear a seatbelt and drive carefully. You warn them to be careful about people they visit on the internet. You advise them to start saving money early in their careers. You think there's always one more thing you need to teach them before they leave the nest. You want to be the perfect parent! The same thing happens with your writing. You proofread your manuscript—and as you do you start to wonder. Should I use a different verb here, a different adjective there? Should I make this minor character more prominent or cut back the number of appearances of that minor character? Is the villain evil enough—or too evil? Maybe he should have a redeeming quality or two? Maybe the hero/heroine is too perfect and needs more flaws. Or maybe fewer flaws. Should you cut that comma? Should you add a comma there? You certainly want to go through you manuscript and make sure that it's the best you can make it. But you can't wait until you think it is perfect to send it out, because you'll never think it's perfect. And it won't be perfect. Nothing is. Even after a book has been edited and copyedited by long-time professionals, someone, somewhere will find something wrong with it. That does not mean the story isn't good or even great! It just means that it isn't perfect. So proofread your manuscript. Make the necessary changes. But don't fiddle with it forever. Get it out there. Let it go!