Revisiting Old Prose
I’m often asked where I find my story ideas. The answer is simple, they just pop into my head. I only remember suffering from writer’s block once, and now I think it’s was probably caused by stress. I always have something waiting to be completed, and one day I hope to get it all finished and published before I die. Time is my biggest adversary with family life running a close second. So yesterday I decided to revisit a manuscript I started last year. Why didn’t I finish it? I just simply ran out time. The basic leg work had been done, the characters were created, but only one-fourth of the story was written by the time the deadline for submission arrived.
So here I am with a July 15th deadline staring me in the face. Will I finish this time? Hopefully.
So where did I begin this time? First I printed off the forty-two pages I’d previously written and read over them with my trusty ink pen in hand to make corrections along the way. Boy am I glad that I didn’t attempt to send this story off last year. Everything needed to be redone. I think I developed some pretty great characters but they were lacking description and purpose. I found that out in the first paragraph. I needed to add some scenery and add transition to move them from one scene to the other. I really didn’t know how important this was to the story until a couple of weeks ago when my new editor beat my story “Cursed” to death with over 1100 comments on how to improve it. So after three weeks of moving from page one to four hundred and sixty I finally understood that people need to move, smell, hear and eat.
Show, don’t tell. That was hard for me to grasp but I think I finally have the hang of it. Example: Dave looked frighten.
Editor: How does frighten look? Describe the expression on his face. What is he thinking? What is his reaction?
Thank god for editors.
The fear ran through Dave’s body like an electric current. Sweat beaded on his forehead, his legs shook and his heart palpitated wildly in his chest as he stared into the eyes of the monster that wanted to devour him. (Not perfect but I’m writing thins on the bus on the way to a doctor’s appointment).
The idea is to make the reader feel that he or she is a part of the environment of the story. Don’t assume readers know what you mean to say. Spell it out; clearly…let them experience the fear.
This manuscript I’m revisiting is a Halloween story. It’s got a beautiful and charming heroine, two of three gorgeous heroes/villains, and a geeky female side-kick. Of course there is going to be a HEA but its missing something. It needs more conflict, more romance and a lot more showing.
So how do you start reworking a manuscript that you’ve put on the back burner for a while?
That’s simple. Find it, re-read it, and then polish it up. Finally, when it’s the best it can be submit it.