Sunday, February 11, 2018

Leaving Your Manuscript Alone

Thank you, American Christian Fiction Writers for publishing my post on 2/6/2018 on your national blog! Enjoy!

     Leaving Your Manuscript                            Alone                   
By Lynn Hobbs
It’s finished. You’ve reread your manuscript, checked for typo’s, and tightened sentences. The next step is as important as getting your story written, and written well: leave it alone. Let it sit idle for at least two weeks. This is what I do. You may have a better alternative, but this works for me.
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No matter if the deadline to enter it in a contest is next week. Pass up the contest this year. Your book deserves the best presentation to the public than rushing to sell it.
In my opinion, the time you did write daily, that’s part of your routine; should be reserved for something related to writing. I suggest you read a book, and continue online writing workshops. I highly recommend joining Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild. I have been a member for two years, and love being able to access workshops in the archives at whatever time day or night I can work it into my schedule. I am the 24/7 caregiver to my mother, and not able to travel to live workshops.
Keep in mind; we are never too old to learn. The craft of writing is an ongoing process. That said; I try to read a book the first week my manuscript is sitting idle. At the end of the week, I give a review on Amazon if the book deserves an honest four or five star rating. If not a four or five star, then I contact the author privately. I do not give a horrible review that will remain against her/his writing abilities nationally on Amazon for the rest of her/his life. I believe this is a common courtesy among authors.
Second week, I read another book, and give another review.
Third week, I return to my manuscript, and read it out loud.  Always surprising, I immediately discover words left out of a sentence. {Example: We had a house of own.  It should be: We had a house of our own.}
In reading the text silently, our mind includes the word we meant to write. In reading the text out loud, the ‘lost’ words stand out clearly.
Reading the text out loud also gives you the opportunity to see words ‘spell check’ does not notice. In writing my first draft, I do not take time to search for mistakes. After letting your manuscript lay idle for two weeks, you suddenly spot if you wrote sense instead of since, etc.
In the manuscript I recently finished, I had one word that I finally omitted. I had one character retrieving a duffel bag. Not familiar with duffel bag; I googled it. Two different spellings were displayed; duffel and duffle. Not wanting to use the wrong spelling, and the fact that duffel bags are not commonly used as they were years ago, I changed it to an oversized tote bag.
I also check for sentences that I could reword with a better description. Not necessarily longer, but an improved choice of words. I tighten sentences again; removing anything redundant, or unnecessary. Last on my list is checking for any loose ends that need clarification.
Upon completion, my word count always changes. I delete a lot, and I add where needed. In my recent manuscript, “Heart of a Neighbor” the word count increased to include five more pages. After this process, I read it out loud again. Satisfied, I sent it off.
There is no set time to finish writing a book. I want to encourage all of you to keep learning. I do. Now onto creating the next book!
Happy writing!
Lynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series: Sin, Secrets, and SalvationRiver Town, and Hidden Creek, and won 1st place Religious Fiction in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of Lillie, A Motherless Child, which won 1st place Biography 2016, TAA, and the American Neighborhood Series: Eyes of a Neighbor. Visit Lynn on FacebookTwitter, and her website.

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4 Responses to Leaving Your Manuscript Alone

  1. Emily Conrad says:
    Good tips! Lately, I’ve been loving having my computer read my work to me as part of my final run-through. I can do chores as I listen–as long as I’m close enough to hit pause and fix the mistake when I hear a missed or incorrect word.
  2. michael says:
    Great blog. We must keep learning, keep reading, and keep writing. Well done!
  3. Lynn Hobbs says:
    Great idea, Emily Conrad! I will try listening to the computer read it also. Thank you!
  4. Lynn Hobbs says:
    Thank you, Michael! I appreciate your comments and encouragement!

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