Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Major edits are scary!

It's difficult making big edits to a manuscript.

For one thing, we all like to think that our first draft might be perfect. It's that rush of adrenaline that sweeps through your bones right as you type the last sentence--that irrational feeling that THIS manuscript is the one. Sure, it's only a rough draft, but it's the best thing you've ever written, so it must be amazing.

This, of course, is a lie. Any trace of arrogance and narcissism vanishes in about the first 30 seconds after you share the manuscript with someone else. Not to mention when you actually read over it for the first time. Because then everything is HORRIBLE and NEEDS to be repaired.

It's just, what if those major edits make your manuscript worse? Why isn't your first draft good enough? It seems decent, even if you know down in your deepest of hearts that it's not. There's potential for this story--you can feel it--but what if your edits just screw everything up beyond repair?

Well, it's just not going to happen. You're not going to kill your manuscript. Trust me. And if you're still concerned, make backup copies of your different drafts. That way you travel back in time if you mess everything up.

However, even if you do tackle the major edits, I won't lie. You might end up writing four versions of one chapter and then realize that the original really was perfect. Or, you might end up with the sixteenth version, the one that you never would've written without forcing yourself to change things it again and again. It's definitely not easy.

Don't let that scare you though. Think about your changes and then enact them with full discretion. But never back down from a major edit, especially when you know that it needs to be down, because otherwise your writing will suffer.

So how do you guys feel about implementing big edits? Does it make you nervous to change something that's spread out through the entire story? Or do you like performing surgery on your manuscript? Tell me in the comments.