We have all read how one of the best things you can do for your manuscript, once you’ve completed an edit, is to put it away and work on something else. This important part of the process is so often overlooked. With good reason of course, often writers have deadlines — especially those signed to a publisher, contract, obligations. Perhaps this is another reason why so often, a writer’s first novel, the breakthrough, is often deemed to be so much better than ones that follow. Of course this is not always the case. Hey, now isn’t that a validation for rejection and having several novels lined up when you finally get signed?
In his book On Writing, Stephen King talks about ‘resting’ a manuscript, to work on the next one and the coming back to it a few months later. And look how successful he has been.
Interestingly this is in my mind this week as I plunge back into the next novel.
I Am Wolf also benefitted from a good rest when I left it on about its 3rd or 4th draft to work on While No One Was Watching. That also benefited from a rest too.
With the latest one, it has had several drafts and surprisingly when I relocated it this week I realised I have written the whole thing including the ending. I have gone back to this one many times and it has changed name, voice, huge sections have been deleted, it has had many incarnations. One of the problems I think is it was never a short story first (as the others were) so it had less of a defined shape. Also the plot had become far too complex and convoluted. I can not tell you how many times I sat down on my sofa with a notebook or wrote some notes in Word trying to get the plot right and not so complex. In the end with a complete draft I moved into the next novel.
And so this week I have plunged back in. And yesterday I ‘started’ to see what it needed. But sometimes, rather like the way a short story can form off set; kind of bubbling away while you’re doing something else, that’s how it’s been since last night. I knew from that buzz in my gut that came yesterday,I was finally finding that part I couldn’t reach before.
Now it’s not quite formed yet — this epiphany is slightly softer than some might be, but it is there (and the concept of it feels BIG for the story) and I woke up this morning thinking about it. I love it when it starts to take over like that — just like I Am Wolf did a few weeks back. This morning, even before I had drunk my coffee (which is still in the pot — sipped!) I have been scribbling and I see it! So this distance thing also applies, not only to resting a manuscript, but also to letting it percolate out of sight.
So now I have worked out not only what needs to happen, but realise also how it will simplify the plot and readers won’t get lost in its complexities! It’s magic!
And I will leave you with that thought as I walk finish my coffee and walk Rosie — and then, WATCH OUT! I’M GOING IN … I might be some time!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!