Long Cooling Off Period – Stuff Your MSS in a Drawer!

My stories have been enjoying a long cooling off period. I’ve been SO busy the last two months getting ready to teach at Highlights Foundation next week. There will be a class on writing picture books with the amazing Leslie Helakoski (see her new book here – really, if you’re looking for a gift, this is a gorgeous and funny book). And, I’ll be teaching about self or indie publishing, based on my work at Mims House.

Basically, that means, I haven’t written fiction in about eight weeks.
I’m going to have a blast teaching next week.
But I’m SO ready to get back to fiction.

I have two stories waiting, and a picture book that I’m anxious to start.
Sleepers, Book 1, The Blue Planets World seriesMy science fiction novel, SLEEPERS, Book 1 of The Blue Planets World series comes out in three weeks.
Books 2 and 3 are waiting for me to pay attention to them. Hello! I’m coming! Soon!

After a Long Cooling Off Period . . .

Does Your Manuscript Need a Cooling Off Period? Here's what you'll see when you return to the story. | DarcyPattison.com

. . . you read with fresh eyes. What does that mean? Essentially, you’ve forgotten parts of the novel! Yes, the author forgets what they’ve written. This is a good thing because you’ll be able to revisit the story while pretending you’re the reader.

Good revising starts with that focus on the reader, not the author. Some things I’ll notice as I read:

  • Awkward. If I pause at all int he flow of the story, I’ll read it aloud. Wow, that’s such a great way to catch phrases that will trip up a reader.
  • Skipping ahead. Oops. If I find myself skipping ahead, I look at the text much closer to be sure it’s interesting.
  • Zoning out. Yeah, if I am zoning out. . .
  • Confused. Sometimes, if find that I must sort out dialogue without enough attributions; or, who was hitting whom; or, where these characters are in the setting. When confusion arises, I try to pinpoint exactly what’s confusing and fix it.
  • Neutral emotions. While reading, your emotions should yo-yo, circle back, and generally get jerked around. If I’m just reading along with no emotional spikes, the story needs work.

In the end, I’m always glad I’ve let a story sit for a while. At the time, it feels strange, like I’m abandoning a friend. But when I come back to it, I know I make it stronger because I’ve been away.

Do cooling off periods seem strange to you?