Let’s talk NaNo again. Or more to the point, that rough draft you might have hammered out. It’s time to polish the turd.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m more of a bare bones writer. Ginormous paragraphs, overly descriptive text that lulls the reader to sleep, and self-fellatio have no place. Perhaps you’ve heard of other writers advising that your freshly minted rough draft should be put in a virtual drawer. That counsel is sound. When we work tirelessly on our manuscript, we become too familiar with each word. We miss little details or don’t see those little typos someone with fresh eyes would see. Depending on self editing and your mother’s second cousin twice removed or yorkie pup is not proper editing or proof reading partners. You need someone far removed from a personal relationship. A person that’s not afraid to slap you with a wet fish.
I belong to a writer critique group called Scribophile. It’s private and chalk full of persons I’ve never met. They owe me nothing but a good manuscript spanking. A local critique circle would be grand but considering I write several genres, I get better feedback. In fact, one of my good writer buddies Aimee Laine wanted to expand her comfort zone and asked me for one of my horror pieces to have a once over. Not a genre she reads–like ever. Still, she gave me great feedback on how to make the story better. None of my circle of writer friends would ever think to only praise whatever I’ve written. They tear me a new one.
I certainly don’t want to decide to dip into self publishing without the aid of decent critiquers or editing and have my story ripped apart by readers because I didn’t take the time to do it right. Unless I’m offering the newly edited piece for free to those I’ve tortured with a less than stellar edition, I do the world of publishing a disservice. It reflects poorly on me to expect people to pay for an inferior product. Readers have every right to not finish a book and write a review on what they have read. You, as the author. have the right to suck it up and not exhibit passive aggressive behavior. Being a douche and being a writer really aren’t good bedmates.
Not once have I had a manuscript edited in such a way that my unique voice was erased out. A good critique partner will tell you about poorly constructed sentences, typos, pitiable content flow, and stale characters. They won’t rewrite the story and no one says the golden rule is you have to agree with every single suggestion. Just don’t be flippant and dismiss them all. No one’s perfect.
I’ve seen a phrase thrown about that I think needs to be set in front of a firing squad. “Labor of love”. Sounds more like special snowflake syndrome. You can’t cuddle your story and only allow those who will worship every single letter like you’re the alphabet god. It doesn’t matter if Grandma or your bestie from high school likes it. That complete stranger out there has more honesty than they ever will.
Work on another manuscript and forget that one you just finished. Wait a week or a month before pulling it out and be hard on yourself. I might call my first pass on my novel an edit but it’s really polish number one. To be followed by more.
So are you ready to not get all butt hurt and do what needs to be done to that manuscript? To make it publisher ready? Do it and own that shit. If you’re writing for your little sister just send her a private PDF and spare the rest of us from your massive unedited turd. Don’t be the one to give an indie writer a bad name. There’s plenty of small presses out there. Test the waters. You won’t regret it.