Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whatever Happened to that First Manuscript?

After years of contemplation, months of agonizing and then days of staring at your blank screen, you’ve finally started writing your first manuscript. As you type each sentence, and as your words begin forming a story, you are thinking to yourself how brilliant you are! How different your ideas and characters are from any others. Months later (or longer, depending on how addicted you’ve become), you type the final paragraph and lean back, excited to review the work of art you’ve just created.

But as you start reading, you might start to notice that some parts of the manuscript sound like a five-year old wrote it. Characters might seem one-dimensional and you might notice major plot holes. Discouraged, you can’t even bring yourself to start making revisions.

At the BYU WIFYR Conference I attended last year, more than one of the authors suggested that a first manuscript is a good writing exercise, and something that you may never want another person to read.

So is it worth it – writing and editing that first manuscript? Should you consider it good practice and then file it away, never to see the light of day again?

My opinion is that giving up on that first manuscript - that first exciting idea - is letting go of part of your creative side. The side that dreams up your ideas, visualizes your characters, provides you with inspiration and keeps you smiling when your editorial side wants to tear you down. Yes, it will take a lot of revisions to get that first manuscript ready to submit to an agent or editor, but that practice will forge you into a stronger writer.

If you still have that first manuscript sitting in a file box, dust it off and enjoy a fun night of reading. You’ll probably find that it’s not as terrible as you remember, and with some editing, it could be ready to run by an agent/editor!


Paul West said...

Great post, Tiffany. Thank you. It gives me hope. I've been working on revising (a few hours per week) my fist novel for years, and now I think it's finally ready. I only wish now I could find an agent who is willing to handle young adult suspense set in the 1960s. I think that's it's main drawback.

Tiffany said...

I'm glad you read the post! Maybe you could make it a time-travel situation? The 60s were an interesting decade and you never know what an agent will like!

Paul West said...

Time travel, not likely. This is a realistic look at how conditions were back then, not a sci-fi book. But you're right. I just need to keep submitting and like you said, "you never know what an agent will like."

Thanks for the encouragement.