Monday, September 24, 2007

A Great Big Piece of Gray Dough

I'm having a love-hate relationship with my manuscript, and right now, it's all hate. This is a ms I started about five years ago and subsequently abandoned. So when I pulled it out last year, I knew it would take some revisions to freshen it up.

To help me decide what kind of revisions I needed, I entered it in some contests. Surprisingly, it finaled in several contests. But no requests from editors.

Over the weekend, I read an article about pacing. Ah-ha! I said. That's it! That's what's holding me back. All the things that slow pacing-- long sentences, big blocks of narrative paragraphs, characters doing boring activities--(the list goes on)--pretty much includes everything I have in this ms. Long sentences? My specialty. Narrative blocks? I love getting inside my characters' heads and thinking with them.

So yesterday, I started full-scale revisions. And now, the ms is a mess. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mom made biscuits. She would give me a bit of dough to play with. I would work that dough with my grimy child's hands until it turned into a dried-out gray lump.

And that's exactly what my manuscript looks like. There's nothing fresh about it. Each word, each phrase, each sentence, each paragraph is forced and overworked and reads like a dried-out gray lump.

My mom always made me throw out the piece of gray dough.

I guess the good thing about the ms is that I can go back to the way it was. It may never get requested by an editor, but at least it won't be gray any more.


Carla Swafford said...

Now, JoAnn, you can decide one of two things. 1) Start over and use the same story or, 2) realize nothing is really wrong with it. We are our own worst critic.

My 2 cents.

JoAnn said...

Thanks, Carla. Two days later, it doesn't look quite as gray as I thought.


Christy Reece said...

I always feel like my wips are big, old ugly messes. Carla's right. We are our own worse critics. Sounds like you've identified the problems with the manuscript. Heck, that's most of the battle. Fix that baby and send it out!

Good luck.