Hey everyone sorry for the wait had workshops and meetings this week. Lets jump right into it shall we?
Any writer knows how difficult it is to write a book, especially your first one. The pre-writing, writing, and editing seem to swallow your life. Once you think you’ve finished your first draft you are left the daunting task of revising and editing your manuscript. How do you turn your beloved book baby into an objective piece of work that needs to be torn apart? I don’t have the answer. I would have the answer if I had a solid cohesive manuscript as a foundation to start revising.
When I finished my first draft and went through my cool-down phase I was excited to tackle the task. However, when I read over my manuscript I realized that what I had written was not what I wanted my novel to be. It was so far from my actual vision that revising and editing would be useless.
Let me explain what my vision was: I wanted a semi-dark, immersive, and intriguing tale of a young woman losing herself in a fantasy world, but all the while finding her true self. I wanted fighting, lovemaking, and raw emotion. I wanted something mature, but relatable to a new adult. I wanted an epic story of truth, love, and badassery.
What I got was a feeble protagonist, overshadowed secondary characters, and a basic villain. I got a fluffy story of a girl overthrowing an evil king with help of her friends. I got a two-dimensional fantasy world with two-dimensional characters and a predictable plot. What I got was a watered down and sweetened version of the novel I truly wanted.
You might as how I strayed so far from my vision? I asked myself that too. The most likely culprit was my weak outline. A basic outline makes a basic story. However, the outline isn’t the only suspect. Lack of self-confidence was another contributing factor. My lack of confidence bled into the pages making a weak story. I was also afraid of getting lost in a complicated and complex story, which made me simplify. That was a mistake. I could go on listing the problems with my manuscript, but I thought you’ve got the point.
Once I realized how shitty my first draft was, I knew there was no point in revising it. The revision and editing process would take too much time and effort. I had to restart from scratch. Of course, I didn’t destroy my manuscript. There were still some hidden gems left in it that I can mine for.
So here are some tips for you to make sure you get your manuscript right the first time:
- Make a badass and thorough outline. Weak outlines make weak manuscripts.
- Make a concrete concept. The more solid your ideas the stronger your manuscript will be. Whether it’s world building or character birthing.
- Looks for advice from successful authors. Blogs, books, and online articles with this advice are everywhere.
- Take advice with a grain of salt. You need to trust your own instincts above all else. Take advice where you think you need it, but don’t forget that you are just as competent and driven as any successful author.
- Brainstorm and don’t ignore ideas. Some of the best ideas seem stupid. Sometimes you just need to manipulate a ‘stupid’ idea to turn into a great one!
- Write down EVERYTHING! You don’t want to forget your ideas, whether they’re stupid or not.
- Invest in notebooks and sketchbooks. Notebooks are a great place to store your ideas. The greatest thing about them is that they don’t need charging. Sketchbooks are great as well, especially when you do concept art. (Here’s a blog I wrote on using art to improve your novel: )
- Write boldly and write freely. Don’t ever hold yourself back and never let anyone else hold you back. Be confident in your abilities and in your ideas.
- Write to entertain. If you can entertain yourself and others with your writing, then you’re doing something right!
- Be yourself. Find your style. Use your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. Always improve, but never lose your spark. Be true to yourself and your words will flow from your heart to the page.
How does one go about rewriting their manuscript? There’s no real answer to that, at least not from what I’ve found on the Internet. Think back to when you start the pre-writing and writing stages for your current sad manuscript. It’s like that, but different. The basic steps are the same, but they’ve been changed and amended to create a better manuscript. There are three stages to rewriting your manuscript:
This is when you reflect on your process of writing your first manuscript and analyze the manuscript itself. You need to identify the issues with your manuscript and the process you used. You should list all the issues and mistakes you find. Now brainstorm ways of improving your process. Research how to avoid the issues you’ve found in your first draft. Find techniques and advice that work for you. This is how you learn from your mistakes to improve your writing. Remember there is no one way to do something.
This is also when you find the things you did right. You need to find what you liked during the process and in your writing so you can carry it over to the new process and manuscript you’re going to build. Not every manuscript is the same and so the process may change every time you write a new book.
You should know about this step already. This is where you brainstorm, write your in-depth outline, world-build, and create three-dimensional relatable characters. This is when you do all your research and idea building. Notebooks and sketchbooks are useful during this step. Anything that needs to happen before you start actually writing the new -and hopefully improved- manuscript needs to happen here. Implement the changes from the Reflection stage.
We all know this step. This is when you sit down and start writing the narrative that will become your book. Implement the techniques and advice that you found during the Reflection stage. This is when you write boldly and freely, while also following -and sometimes diverging from- your thorough outline. For me, this is when my soul sings. This is my favourite part of the whole process.
From here the normal writing process continues: revising, editing, betas, and so one. Let’s just hope that none of us has to go back and do a second rewrite.
Thanks for reading,
– Lalia LaRose