5 Tips to Polish Your Manuscript

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

Most folks around here—the frozen tundra of Minneapolis—currently are hibernating because of the cold. I don’t blame them. It’s warmer in Siberia than here. Not even exaggerating (this time).

But I’m not hunkered down because of a nippy windchill. Currently I’m squirreled away because I’m in the middle of edits. It’s the ol’ pedal to the grindstone, nose to the metal time . . . or something like that. Yeah. Editing is very important, and there are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way to help the process go a little easier.

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5 Tips to Polish Your Manuscript

  1. Have 3 or 4 other sets of eyeballs read your work and offer notes.

This step is essential. You need to know what you’re really dealing with because at this point you won’t be able to see the trees in the midst of that godforsaken forest you call a manuscript. Is it a masterpiece or a piece of manure? Nab some honest Joes by the collar and ask them for their unadulterated opinion.

  1. Read those notes and decide which ones you’ll use.

Some comments on your writing are 100% awesome. Others? Not so much. How do you decide which advice to listen to and which to shove down the garbage disposal? You’re the author so go with your gut. If adding or cutting something is a hill that you’d die on, then ignore the advice. But if you’re not willing to fight to the death over some words, then change them.

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  1. Decide on a plan of attack.

Now that you’ve heard back from your beta readers, how are you going to implement those changes? Biggest changes to smallest? Easiest to hardest? Front to back, plow right through, beginning to end? There is no “right” way to do it. The point is that you pick a way and just get ‘er done.

  1. Be a hoarder.

More than likely you’re going to be cutting a lot of unnecessary description, maybe even some dialogue or action, to make the story flow better and trim it down to a svelte form. Open up a blank file and save all that cut verbage. Why? A few reasons . . . you might want to put it back in later when your editor notices a gaping hole. Or you could use the copy as “extras” — tidbits to toss to your raving fans. Or you might even have a brilliant bit that could go into a different story later on.

  1. On your last pass edit, read it out loud.

Sure, you may feel like a babbling idiot reading your entire novel out loud, but trust me on this, it’s worth the embarrassment. Your tongue will stumble over phrases that your mind skips over like a freaking little lamb. Why does it matter? Because believe it or not, changing those mouthfuls will help with the pacing and rhythm of the words, if even subliminally.

Once you’ve completed these steps, it’s time to unleash that puppy into the world. At some point you have to call it quits and move on to another project.

 


12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Imprisoned unjustly, BENJAMIN LANE wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can CLARA CHAPMAN possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar? Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters . . . and what matters most is love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent andGallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.the next level.