The First Time
I just read a post by a fellow ACFW member, Georgiana D, about the agony of going through, for the first time and editing a manuscript. Before I started the WPF program at Seton Hill, this is something I’d never tackled, for the very simple reason that I didn’t want to.
When I first started out writing, I would write in chunks. When I had an idea for my characters, I’d sit down and write until the idea ran out, whether it was something that would fit into the structure of a story or not. I didn’t have a “plot” — I had characters I loved and that I wanted to spend time with. Part of the way I spent time with them was constantly rewriting, reimagining, and expanding already-existing scenes. This is why I never completed a full manuscript until after I turned 30…because I was an indulgence writer.
I never realized that what I used to do in the past, which I thought was a bad habit I had to break myself of, was actually training for revising a manuscript. Once I learned how to write a novel from beginning to end with no detours (okay, a few, but not many), when it came time to actually revise one, I found myself looking forward to it. Because I started Happy Endings, Inc., three times and because I had to turn in a certain volume of page count for school before settling firmly on the plot, by the time I wrote the last chapter, the first third of the novel was completely out of whack with the direction I ended up taking my story. I couldn’t wait to get back into it and revise, reimagine, and refurbish my manuscript into a novel.
Once I started editing, I started seeing gaps, holes, that needed filling. I had more ideas for ways to bring the characters together –or separate them! I more fully understood the internal and spiritual conflict for my heroine. And I ended up liking my story more for having spent time polishing it.
That made the second and third times that much easier, too.