"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Cleaning your Manuscript: Part 1

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Today I’m talking about Spring Cleaning! There’s nothing quite like a little change in the weather to motivate me to clean around the house. But it doesn’t stop with the house. Why not take this wonderful time to spring clean your current manuscript?


Here are 5 ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…

1) The darlings

They must be killed. Yes, I know they are special to you, but that’s where it stops. Those jokes that seem so funny in your mind might actually not be very funny to anyone else. So identify as many darlings are you can, call them out for what they are, and destroy them.


2) The cliches

Yes, every single one. The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions. It’s paved with cliches. The time for cliched writing is gone with the wind. So if your kid comes home and mentions a great cliche they learned in class today and you have that cliche in your manuscript, take that as a sign from the universe and give it the ax.


3) The title

Are you sure your title works? Is this perhaps the perfect time to take a look at it and really consider if it is going to capture the attention your wonderful darling-free and cliche-free manuscript deserves? Did another book just come out with the same title? Take a step back and at least consider some other options. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.


4) The adverbs

Yes, these are the words we all love that end in “ly.” Cut. Them. All. And then, only if you desperately feel like you need one badly, put it back in sparingly. They don’t have a place. And I’m talking about after dialogue tags, too. People may say things gruffly, but I don’t want to be told that. I want to be shown that.


5) The backstory

Sure, you care about what happened to your characters before. You’ve mapped out their lives. Their parents have jobs. Their siblings have best friends. You know all the places they frequent. But that doesn’t mean your reader needs to know or will care one hoot about any of this stuff. Drop us in the action and then dribble in ONLY THE IMPORTANT DETAILS later on.


Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!


5 comments:

Graeme Ing said...

Perfect list! Everyone of us should pin this list to our monitor when we polish and edit. Thanks for sharing.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing them.

PJ Hoover said...

Hey Graeme! Thanks! I had fun putting it together. So many things to think about as we revise.

Thanks, Natalie! Hope all is going great with you!

Angela Brown said...

Love the tips, PJ. Doing some spring cleaning on an MG manuscript now and at work doing a bit of chopping here and a slice and dice there. Checking for cliches as well lol!!

PJ Hoover said...

I feel your pain, Angela! I am right there with you. It's hard, and yet it feels good to do!