Tag Archives: wait

25 Feb

Hot Potato: Let that Manuscript Cool Off

You type, “The End.”
Then, you write a fast letter to an editor and send off a couple sample chapters.

You forgot one thing. That manuscript needs to cool off before you send it out.
It is the single, hardest thing for me to do. I do not want to wait and besides that, I KNOW the revisions I just did are fantastic and the editor will be dying to read it. Yes? No.

Sadly, I send out material before it is ready. When I wait and read something even a week later, I find so many more things to revise.

Repeated words. Subconsciously, I fall in love with this word or that and it repeated endlessly. I don’t notice this unless the mss has rested a while and then, the words stick out like pimples. My goal is to cut that repetition to a single instance. After all, a single pimple isn’t bad, it’s the allover pimple face that’s bad. Two words I constantly overuse are bit and whirl: She whirled around a bit before settling down. Not bad, until she whirls 13.5 times per chapter.

Spelling and Grammar. OK, all you grammar witches. I know you are out there, because you email me all the time. My blog posts tend to be more off the cuff and I pay for it in humiliation every time a Grammar Witch reports in. (NOTE: I LOVE you, Grammar Witch. I am yours to command. I just WISH I had your eye for detail.) My remedial Grammar Witch glasses only work well when a mss has cooled off a while. Then, things pop out at me.

Darcy, sporting slightly askew Grammar Witch Glasses.

Pacing. I am much better at spotting pacing problems after something has cooled off. It is the places where I–the author–lose interest and start skimming. Oh, that’s bad when I can’t even keep myself entertained. On the other hand, I often find places to slow down, to zoom in and let the reader feel more emotions. Either way, I need the story to sit a while before I can spot these.

Vague, Unsettled Dissatisfaction. It’s hard to say exactly what this is, because it varies with each manuscript. Just–something is wrong. Off. I can usually pinpoint what that is and fix it. But when I can’t do that immediately, I start analysis, such as the Shrunken Manuscript or using other tools from Novel Metamorphosis. Because I must find and fix whatever it is. Usually–there’s something and it’s not a minor something. I just can’t see it right away.

What about you? Do you let a manuscript cool off?

01 Oct

10 Ways to Beat the “Hurry Up and Wait” Blues

I have recently turned in two project and in this slow business, it is time to “Hurry Up and Wait.” I don’t do this well. We’ve already taken vacations for the year. So, I’ve made a to-do list.

  1. Volunteer. There are some projects that I’ve wanted to do pro-bono, so this is the time to dive in and get them done.
  2. Gone Fishing for Stories. I am reading two books about the mythical island of Atlantis, trolling for ideas. It may come to nothing, but I am trolling and hoping to catch a big one.
  3. Read Dracula. Really. I recently read a comment from someone that she liked reading Twilight and thought it a good read; then, she read Dracula and found out what really good writing was like. Shrug. I may or may not agree, but I’ve got it downloaded on my Kindle to read. Click here for an interesting look at a variety of Dracula book covers.
  4. Promote. You know me as a writing teacher; but I can only teach because I also write. And I am in the depths of promotion for my new book, DESERT BATHS. Wow, there’s lots of things to do. I have promo copies to give away and people to talk with.
  5. Write speeches on Social Media and Novel Revision. I have a couple upcoming big presentations: a three-hour presentation on Social Media and a two-hour presentation on novel revision. The problem with the novel revision is condensing and focusing a weekend retreat into only two hours. The problem with the social media presentation is figuring out what I think about the mass of information I have, and then figure out how to present it. (If you run across any good articles on social media, any breaking news–please send me a link!)
  6. Blog Projects. Of the several long-term projects for this blog, I will be working on some videos.
  7. Write 750words.com. If all else fails, I will turn to 750words.com and write for 15-20 minutes without stopping.
  8. Try something new. I could learn about Instagram, do a Pinterest tutorial, or write a sonnet. I like the sonnet idea.
  9. Take a long walk. Walk and walk and walk and walk.
  10. Hurry up and wait. Start a new novel. Yes!
12 Mar

10 Ways to Wait

10 things to do while waiting 8 months to hear from an editor on a requested revision


What would you add to this list?

  1. Check your email every 15 minutes. Alternately, leave your email program on and the volume set to high, so that it bellows at you, “You’ve got mail,” and you can run delete the spam.
  2. Daily, write anguished letters to the editor about how you know you should have fixed that lazy verb in paragraph 11 of page 121, but you just didn’t notice it until seventeen days after you sent it. Let the letters stack up in the fireplace for the weekly ritual of burning them.
  3. Make a large X through the day on each of the 21 calendars in your house. When husband asks if he’s forgotten an important day, just sigh and walk away. Enjoy the flowers he brings home.
  4. Haunt online forums for any mention of the editor’s activity on other manuscripts. When you discover other activity, cry all night long.
  5. Pick up the phone to call the editor and put it down undialed at least a dozen-dozen times a day. When you develop repetitive stress disorders in your hands and arms, purchase a Blue-tooth.
  6. Swear to your best friend that you will absolutely die if you don’t hear today. Cough violently to convince her this is true.
  7. Write an essay comparing this waiting period to sitting in a corner of a rattlesnake pit waiting for one of them to warm up, uncoil and notice you. Anything, any scrap of notice is better than this utter silence. Rejoice when the essay is published in the Artic Writers and Snakelover’s Newsletter, and spend the $1 payment on breath mints.
  8. Read an editor’s blog about how busy she is and feel the sympathy of a statue of rock salt. However, link to the editor’s blog from your blog and make sure your public sympathy is evident.
  9. Wait with every fiber of your being to see if Scheherazade’s curse will strike you: if there is no acceptable story, you are dead. Read and re-read every story of the Arabian Nights that you can.
  10. At the end of 7 months, 29 days, start a new project that fascinates you and captures your heart. In fact, it captures your heart so much that when the editor calls two days later, you don’t even recognize her name.

What is YOUR favorite way to wait?

If you like this tongue-in-cheek list, you might also like this one about honest critiques.

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