Thursday, September 20, 2012

Workshopping a Manuscript

In my last update (which I realize was a long time ago), I made reference to a manuscript I've been working on for the past year. I'm still working on it, ironing out the kinks as it were so I thought I'd impart a little about my experience with developing a manuscript.

Last year, I submitted a manuscript to Fictionista Workshop, hoping for the opportunity to work with a team on polishing it up. I crossed my fingers and waited. In the spring, I received confirmation it had made the cut. I was excited about the prospect. I naively assumed that the manuscript was all ready to roll; that during the twelve week workshop, I'd come out at the end with this polished work, ready to query. Was I ever wrong about that.

After twelve weeks, I'd cut the first 17k, rewrote almost every chapter except for one or two in their entirety, and was only a 1/3 of the way through editing the manuscript. The cutting was a challenge, but it was necessary. Once the superfluous content and backstory was removed, the narrative began to flow much more smoothly. I liked the characters better and I had a more accurate sense of who they were. Cutting all that content, while painful, allowed me to be more objective in the process. What I cut wasn't wasted, it helped me further develop the characters and move the story forward.

Although the workshop had technically ended, I was fortunate that my team and I seemed to gel, and they kindly agreed to stay on and continue to work with me, at a much less rigorous pace. Sometimes it was very slow going, thanks to that pesky obligation called a job, but we all persevered. In May of this year, I finally had a completely edited—and mostly rewritten—manuscript.

Thus began edit round two. The second time through allowed me to weed out crutch phrases—those phrases we lean on when we're trying to get the words on the page and don't want to interrupt the flow. A second edit, through a cleaned up manuscript made repetitive words pop out, and I was able to remove instances in which I felt the need to over stage-direct readers. I followed it up with a third, a fourth, a fifth edit  ... You see where this is going. I'm on my final read through. Six edits should be the magic number. I hope.

For me, the experience has been a positive one. I had the privilege of working with a group of very cool women who wielded the power of "Track Changes" with unparallelled finesse. There is an unfathomable comfort in having a team to work through the difficult parts of editing a manuscript, when characters can be less than cooperative and resistant to change. Or maybe that was just me.

In any case, progress is being made. I look forward to being able to share more with you; eventually in the form of something with a cover.

If you are interested in checking out the latest article I wrote for Fictionista Workshop click on the link below: 

(The irony that I've written an article on this topic is not lost on me after CW&IA).

Thank you for your continued support of my writing.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Long, Winding and Pothole Riddled Road to Rewriting and Editing

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Although, I realize I haven't posted anything in the better part of a year, so it's easy to understand why that might have been the common assumption. During that time I've been working on original fiction in my genre of choice and I have a second draft completed. Editing seems to be an endless practice, and I’m currently in the throes of yet another revision, polishing the story to make it shiny and presentable before I begin the process of querying. One thing I’ve learned is that I could revise the story a million times and still find things to change each time.

Some of you may want to know if I'm working on Clipped Wings or Misapprehension. The short answer to that is no. Although I would like to conquer a rewrite of the beast that is CW&IA at some point, I'm all about finishing one project before moving onto another. That story needs some serious surgery, and right now I lack the time necessary to perform such an in depth operation.

To the readers who have continued to make contact during the past year to check up on me, or who have followed my banal twitter feed; thank you for your endless support and encouragement. You have helped inspire me to push forward when the solitary process of editing and rewriting seemed an insurmountable task. 

I hope that some time in the future I will be able to tell you I have a novel ready for release. Until then, I’ve written an article for Fictionista Workshop on Keeping the Flow. I have article scheduled for posting later this month. If you're interested in learning more about the writing process, check out some of the informative articles posted in Fictionista's Writer's Toolbox.

From here on out, this will be the place where I provide updates on my writing progress and process.

Thank you for your continued support on the lonely and sometimes pothole riddled road of writing.


Helena Hunting (H. Hunting)

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