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Chasing Rainbows

Chasing Rainbows

Last post conference post I’ll make. Promise. But here is something to consider. After conference and you’ve got that request to see a partial or a full, do yourself a favor–go through those pages with a fine tooth comb before you send them in. I know how exciting it is to get requests and you don’t want to waste a second getting them in front of that editor–but I also know the other side of that elation–the remorse of having sent in pages that were rushed in for the sake of just getting them in.

What is the point of having this opportunity, having spent all that money and time to get to conference, to get that appointment, to get that request, if you don’t then put the same time and effort into one more polish? Otherwise you might as well spend your time chasing rainbows like the one that appeared over my neighborhood the other evening.

I’ll be upfront about this: I am a huge proponent of re-writing. I rewrite my manuscripts four times at the minimum before I send them in. Each pass refines, retools, defines, weighs every word, every bit of that story experience to make sure it is all working together. And believe me, editors and agents notice the difference.

Look at it from their point of view: if you were going to buy one manuscript but you had to two to choose from, which one would you choose:

  • Manuscript A which is a great story, but needs some serious editing
  • Manuscript B which is an equally great story and needs very little editing

Given they are usually buried with work, the editor is going to choose the story that gives them an unprecedented weekend off.

So what do you need to do? Make sure you’ve done everything you can to make that story a compelling, fun, exciting, great read. Get rid of mistakes, typos, sentences-paragraphs-pages-chapters that don’t add to your story . Make sure your main characters are likeable. That is huge. Because a reader (aka the editor or agent) needs to like your characters, care as much about them as you do. And to do that, they need to be likeable.

So what do you think you need to do to your writing to make it saleable? What are you willing to do to get it there?

As for me? I’ve off to find that pot of gold that is obviously buried in my neighbor’s yard.

8 comments to “Chasing Rainbows”

  1. Gillian
    July 24th, 2007 at 5:07 pm · Link

    I went to the SEP workshop at Nationals, and she talked about writing the “boring” parts, if need be, in order to get your story done, and then going back the second time and beginning to tighten it up into the story it was meant to be.

    I just loved that; it’s so much easier to just write like the wind, knowing that those “boring” parts can and will be chopped. In the first draft, however, they help me to understand my transitions.

  2. Haven Rich
    July 25th, 2007 at 7:25 am · Link

    Well the first thing I need to do is finish it! That’d help a lot! And by finishing it, I mean the first rough draft. I’ve hit some major hard times with this one MS and despite it giving me all these fits, I haven’t given up hope on it.

    On the 2nd MS, it’s slow going because I’m not focused on it. It’s merely a “side” project for now.

    After that, I hope it will be easier to tighten the laces and make it the “omgs I can’t put this down, super awesome” story I see it as. Not being a psychic here or anything, but I see a lot of work in my future

  3. Christina Arbini
    July 25th, 2007 at 8:03 am · Link

    Despite getting two editor requests for fulls and one agent request for a partial, I decided to go back through the already completed manuscript and make adjustments where they needed to be. Even after having edited a couple times myself several months ago and having someone else review it, I STILL found a few errors where I’d not switched back to third person POV after having originally started the book in 1st person POV. Plus, I’m finding several places where I could say things in a better/different way and add a little more introspection where needed. I’ve been caught in that race to send the requested ms out many times in the past, but this time there has been enough months since last looking at it, that I felt better going back through one more time. ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Gillian
    July 25th, 2007 at 1:46 pm · Link

    Wow, Christina, congratulations! And Haven, I so hear you. When I get new ideas I have the attention span of a gnat with my current work.

  5. Santa
    July 27th, 2007 at 8:22 pm · Link

    I am so glad I popped by here tonight. I sit in Starbucks, closing down the place, and have been furiously re-writing my ms in anticipation of sending it out to the editor who requested a full. Some parts are great. Some need a little polish and some have me wondering ‘what was I thinking’ when I wrote it!

    It’s so important to me to put my best foot forward with my first completed manuscript. It’s taken me two slow years to write it, I don’t think I should just run it up the flag pole and see who salutes.

    BTW, I am so sorry I never got a chance to meet you in Dallas. I adore your books and your writing is an inspiration to me!

  6. Patti
    July 29th, 2007 at 8:31 pm · Link

    I always thought one had to be in the right place (or have the right story) when the time comes. You know, LUCK.

    I could never sell on first draft and envy those who type the end and send it off to their editor, etc.

    I have to layer and polish until I think it’s perfect.

    I’m an aspiring author.

  7. Elizabeth
    July 31st, 2007 at 7:18 am · Link

    Patti, that is exactly how I write–layer over layer over layer. Whatever works to make your writing the best. And actually I know plenty of writers who do that first draft thing, and don’t envy them. They struggle and struggle over every page–we layerers just spread the pain out so it is in easier doses. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. gillian
    August 1st, 2007 at 8:26 pm · Link

    That’s good to hear, Elizabeth.

    I found out that no matter how many charts or interview type things I try, I really don’t know my characters until the story’s over, and then I can go back and make sure their words and actions are actually true to their nature.

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