BEWARE THE MANUSCRIPT BEAST!


My opponent never tires … never gives up. I’ve spent the last several weeks hacking at his very soul, using weapons that should have reduced him to nothing more than a few well ordered pages. Yet still he remains, fat and bloated on the excess imagination he’s devoured.


He’s fearsome to behold. His stare is the stare of 10,000 coffee saturated hours. His breath has the disgusting reek of superfluous conjugation. Adverbs slip from his every pore like maggots. They seek out new works to infest, and for every one I cut down, six more take their place! Hardened layers of exposition take the shape of cruel horns. They jute out at every angle, and I fear they are too numerous to file down. Bad dialogue has grouped to form rows of razor sharp teeth that tear at my fingers and rip away the flesh of my resolve. I’ve come to fear the sight of my opponent as one fears the shadow of his own death.

Our arena is a temple of unfulfilled dreams, half-drank glasses of wine, and dying promises. Signs of our epic struggle surround me; severed pages, dead plots, useless character sketches, and disemboweled how-to-books litter every surface. Yellow sticky notes are splashed on the walls like the blood of order-craving insects that’ve gotten squashed beneath my foe’s heavy boot. A once hardy chair now crumbles under the perpetual weight of a cruel master; the once glimmering desk is only a scuffed prop in an out of control war. How a creative heart could survive in such a despairing place is beyond reckoning.

Yet survive I must. Too many good people have succumbed to the Manuscript Beast. Some have given him their lives, a lucky few have only lost years. His reign must end! I see now that to best him I will need an arsenal of exceptional tools:

I will need The Sword of COURAGE to fight the doubts of those who say I cannot win.

I will need The Shield of STRENGTH to endure the hours, days, and weeks of battle that still lay ahead.

I will need The Spear of WISDOM to attack my opponent’s weaknesses.

Lastly, I will need The Armor of HEART to sustain me when my rational mind is turned to poison by the Beast’s relentless assault.


*** Note from the author ***
This post is dedicated (in fun) to all of you who have been fighting through edits. It sucks, but I’m convinced that we can (and will) win. Happy writing this week, and go give the Beast some hell for me!

10 comments:

  1. A very wise lady (not me) told me the drafts are just the beginning; it's not until you finish your pruning that you efforts result in a novel.

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  2. I hear you, Kay. Editing stinks but it must be done!

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  3. I love editing, you should too. It takes your Caterpillar and turns it into a butterfly. Now I must admit, I print out my wip in a 6x9 book form and carry it around and red line the poor thing to death. The sick pleasure of acting like my past teachers take over me. The viola' a piece of art. Keep at it and you'll learn to love it.

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  4. I spent about 5 minutes staring at this, and wondering how long Scorpion had a sword without my noticing. lol.

    I'm not a fan of editing, but I don't mind doing it. The thing which is depressing me right now (on my first edit) is that I've probably got to make at LEAST two more passes on the book. At that rate, it might be published by... the end of the century!

    GRRRRR!!!

    -Claire Dawn
    (who should be editing, but hasn't turned on the computer since Friday, and is checking out the blog posts she missed instead.)

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  5. @ LM: I guess I'll enjoy it more if and when my efforts yield a truly polished piece of work. Right now I'm afraid those 'butterlies' you mentioned are really moths and they're going to go eat holes in my favorite boxers! lol

    I think the 6x9 book is a great idea, btw. I may have to give that a try!

    @ Claire Scorpion has many weapons with which to vanquish his unworthy opponent ... "GET OVER HERE!" ** sorry, couldn't resist! **

    I think you bring up a valid point: perhaps the hardest thing about editing is the scope. When I speak to non-writing friends about it, I get the impression that they think once the book is drafted, you go through and spell check (2nd Draft), replace missing punctuation (3rd Draft), change a character's name (4th Draft) and then ship her off to be published. It doesn't occur to them that if you think chapter 14 stinks, you can't just cut it out. It might mean re-writing 1/3 of the story. Or that if Mrs. Pennyflaven decides she doesn't want to tell Mr. Hogstooth to shove it in chapter 4, you may have to completely change the ending of the story.

    The time factor is also a huge downer; when I suggested recently to a fellow writer in a critique group that she might have to spend as much time editing (or more) as she did drafting, I might as well have set her manuscript on fire and danced on the ashes. It's just a hard pill to swallow.

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  6. I don't know if you saw my MS on "Extreme Make-Over: Novel Edition". When we first met The Journey she weighed in a King Kong sized 234K words!

    Since then she has undergone Gastric Bypass surgery to rapidly lose some word count, took up power walking to tone up her dialogue, and finally saw that dermatologist about those adverb clogged pores.

    Today she weighs in around 134K with still a bit to go. She's hoping to fit into a size 100K by summer. Although she wouldn't look bad a two piece right now. And she changed her name to go with her new look "Prep School Sins".

    (This blog was your funniest yet in my opinion)

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  7. E.J. Yay! The "Come Here!" was it! I'm such an MK dweeb :)

    Definitely one of the biggest challenges I've faced in writing is my clueless non-writer friends.

    "Oooo, you wrote a novel (=first draft). You should so self-publish. It's so easy to e-publish these days."

    I've totally mastered the smile, nodd and back away slowly :)

    Elbie, I love your comment. Good luck on 100K :)

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  8. Elbie- You crack me up! Had to get that out!

    E.J.- You may find me sick and twisted but I have to tell myself NOT to edit! I keep wanting to go back and read what I wrote. If I do that, it won't be long before I'm tweaking one thing after another... adding a new character maybe killing another one off.

    Keep with it! I'm sure it will be amazing and totally worth all of the effort you put into it!

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  9. @ M.L. - I know exactly what you mean! I pre-read a small section from the previous day's work before I get started each morning, and I have to fight to keep from spending hours mucking around in what's already been written.

    Everyone has their own process, but for me, hard editing as I go is a formula for never finishing anything.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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