On Writing, Editing, and Hard Copies

IMG_1616I’ve been plunging back into my own writing lately, trying to better manage my time so that my work doesn’t languish because of the freelance work I need to do for the guaranteed paydays.

To that end, I’ve been finishing manuscripts that have been sitting around in various stages for years. I’m picking one MS at a time, finishing it, then moving on to the next.

Granted, that may elicit a loud “Duh!” from many writers. But there are varied approaches to writing, and one way is that if you feel hung up in one MS, you shift to another. If you’re not careful, however, you develop the bad habit I’ve been stuck in, like the worst housing contractor you’ve ever heard of, going from one project to another without ever circling back, perpetually moving to something new without finishing the trail of half-built houses left in your wake.

In the photo you can see the first two results of my new approach. Two complete drafts, one weighing in at a hundred pages (about 32K words), the other at fifty (about 16K words). I’m now working on a revised outline for the incomplete manuscript that has become the current work in progress. The idea is to always have one current WIP on its way to a complete draft, with a variety of previous manuscripts getting polished, sent to beta readers, and then submitted.

The photo also represents an important phase in the manuscript: the hard copy waiting for the red pen treatment. I always do at least one hard copy editing pass through a manuscript. There’s something about working on paper with pen that process differently for me so that I’ll notice things I missed while reading on the monitor.

I’m also noticing a trend. All my work seems to be creeping up into novella territory. Short stories are generally under 7,500 words. Above that you go from novelette to novella before reaching full-length novel. I’m seeing the trend as good practice working on longer stories before I get back to my novel which is patiently waiting its turn behind a few other unfinished manuscripts . . . very patiently.

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