Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is It Time To Let Your Manuscript Graduate?

Tis the season for graduations! Is someone you know graduating?

I'm in the spirit, too. My daughter graduated two weeks ago, earning her Masters degree. While attending her ceremony I thought of a few ideas for writing to share with you. 

First, let me say, after I prepared this post, I noticed the group of professional writers group is chatting about this very subject this week. It's hot and ripe. So jump in and join me for the ride.

During the commencement, various department heads came to the microphone and announced to the president of the university: "I present you with these students who have satisfactorily completed the requirements for their degree."

Of course not all the graduates achieved 4.0 or higher GPAs. There were graduates who achieved a range of GPAs from 2.0-3.9, yet they all still met the minimum requirements for their programs and could now go out into the workforce with their degree. 

Many of us have keyed "the end" for our manuscripts, completing a rough draft. We've edited the work, submitted it to critique groups, maybe had a beta reader or two offer advice. This story child has gone through all the hoops. So why are we holding on to it? 

Conferring graduation on a manuscript means any of the following:

1. I am proud, happy, and thrilled that I have honed my craft. I have applied these lessons to my story. I have submitted my story to crit partners or beta readers and they all seem to give me the go ahead.
2.  I am super nervous about pushing that send button, but I think it's time. I will swallow a super power pill that will gives me the strength to send it on to an editor or agent...tomorrow.


3. If truth be told, I have edited this story so much, I don't want to look at it again. I know I need to set it aside and not look at it for awhile, but can't seem to do it.. 

All writers slip into a schlump at one time or another. Nit picking our story for--wait, how long has it been? No, not that long! Really? We torment the characters, plot, grammar, and anything else we scrutinize, desperately seeking the magnum cum laude product. 

The problem is, one story can weigh us down, stealing our thoughts and time. 

As writers, we need to consistently work towards the final product. Hovering over one manuscript while mold grows on the pages will not help our self esteem, improve our writing ability, or produce a writing contract, even if doing all these things seems like it.

How is your current story doing? Is it displaying any of these fixable ailments?

1. Needs a well-rounded plot.
2. Needs deeper characters.
3. Needs layering.
4. Needs a dynamic beginning.
5. Needs the perfect ending.
6. Needs believable dialogue.
7. Needs narrative that flows.
8. Needs more or less words.

Of course there are more items that can fit on this list. You know what they are. If this is the case. Keep working on your story!

Photo Courtesy

But if your story is showing the signs of the high school senior who is aching to leave the nest--bored, anxious, tired of the process then you need to either send the story on for consideration or set it aside. Whether this story is perfect, it's ready to graduate.

And it's time for you to write a new story.

I know. I know. You don't have a new idea. Or the idea that tweaked in your mind last week is too small. This, too, is an easy fix. You, my friend, are in need of a writer's brainstorming session. 

Here is your prescription: 
1. Pray - God has tons of ideas!!
2. Pray - Ask God to send you a brainstorming partner
3. Set aside your shyness and ask someone to help you brainstorm (the one you think to ask will most likely be a result of number 2.
4. Do whatever jumpstarts your brain: jog, go for a drive, read a book in your genre, start writing, make a list, eat chocolate, etc.

One of three things needs to happen today:

1. Your story needs to advance on the page in some way.
2. Your need to prepare the materials to send your story to an agent, editor, etc.
3. You need to start a new story and set this current one aside.

Which will it be?

I can't wait to read your comment!

Photo by Mary Vee

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes young adult mystery/adventure Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


kaybee said...

Mary, yeah, about that. The longer I do this, the MORE reluctant I am to "graduate" my stories. I think it's because I'm more aware of what good writing really is and I would rather keep it with me and tweak it into eternity. When I was younger and more headstrong I used to send out, well, unripe fruit, and I cringe now at some of the things I blithely submitted. But You Are Right and there Comes A Time.
Kathy Bailey
Going for the Bold in NH

Mary Vee Writer said...

I agree, Kathy, in the sense that I used to rush to submit. Those are the moments when I need to graduate my work to my shelf, set it aside and not think about it. This frees me to start new works. After a time, I can go back and have a fresh take on the manuscript. Who knows. Maybe after the new edit it will be ready to submit? :)
Like graduation, no one is ever really done with training. We learn on the job, take additional courses, etc. That's kinda what some of our manuscripts need. A time to rest and be retrained.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Thank you for this, Mary. It's exactly what I needed to hear.
Today I'm ready to advance my story and get it ready for submission in the near future.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Congratulations, Jill!! There is light at the end of the tunnel and a graduation on the horizon. :)