So What did I Learn?

… from the manuscript assessment, that is.

Having your work criticized is daunting. As a whole, I don’t take criticism well. I suppose not many people can handle being told you’re doing something wrong, but somehow it truly gets my back up.

But I needed to buckle up and tackle the task of revising my baby— after all, I paid good money for it!

The biggest lesson: Less is more

If you think ‘should I?’ or ‘is it believable?’— DON’T.

Parts of the manuscript I ended up culling were areas or things I wondered about myself. So, if in doubt, leave it out.

Another biggie: Point of View (POV)

Definition of Point of View:  In literature, point of view is the mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay.

Sounds simple, hey? I thought so, too.  I mean, third person is third person. Nope, it’s not, which led to a lot of confusing research on the matter.  Reedsy offers a great explanation and a 10-day course on this important subject.

My editor terms what I use ‘third person omniscient’ whereas I’d term it (thanks to my newly-gained knowledge of POV) ‘third person limited’. I switch POV scene by scene, trying to catch each characters’ thoughts as the story unfolds. I began to fret over how I used POV, going round and round is an ever increasingly confusing spin.

It took weeks to settle my mind on this matter, and after debating this with my editor, I ended up sticking to what flows easiest from me, but paying more attention to how I change scenes. I am most likely breaking some rules along the way… Good? Bad? Time will tell.

Ah… Language! US English vs UK English.

It truly pains me to color and not colour, or realize, not realise. But there you go, my series is set in Texas, USA, so American it has to be! The car has a trunk and not a boot. Americans ride the elevator and not the lift. And gosh, pass the cookies, but please leave the biscuits.

There were a few other things I needed to pay attention to as I didn’t always get it right:

Action and Dialogue tags
Aidan nodded. “Yes, you’re right.” (Action then dialogue)
“I’m afraid,” Lily whimpered. (Description after dialogue)

As the first book in a series revolving around siblings, the introduction of the various characters is tricky. Too much, too soon is not good, but again, they are part of a family, their stories will follow soon, so they need to get ‘airtime’ within the overarching plot.  It’s a fine balance.

Delete, delete, and delete some more
It pained me, truly pained me, to say goodbye to people I grew to love, or delete scenes I painstakingly spent hours crafting. But I achieved the objective and cut 15 000 words from my manuscript. 

Overall the review was positive, full of good advice and worth the money spent, not just for this book, but for all future writing. So, thank you, Janita Holtzhauzen, for taking the time to read my ramblings and encourage me to continue on this journey of mine.

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