Ever feel like Ross when it comes to your "completed" manuscripts?
I didn't mean to take a break from editing: I thought I was done with all that editing stuff. Well, naturally I assumed that my as-yet-future wonderful agent would prompt some editing, and I remain confident that any editor who purchases my story will want some editing, but I truly believed that my story was ready for querying. I'd exhausted several betas, I'd cut thousands of words, and I'd reached the point that I couldn't be sure if anything I was doing was actually helping the story.
So I queried. And my wonderful, well-edited, workshopped query... went whump. This wasn't a case of agents requesting a partial and then passing. They read the query and fired of the form rejection. Or sent me to their "no reply means no" box. I had a couple exciting bites from agents I could claim a personal connection to, but everyone else... not so much. Fortunately, I've been around long enough to know what that means: my query wasn't working. Time to revise.
So, after fewer than 15 queries, I stopped querying. And started editing... the query. Because, really, practically no one had seen my manuscript. Obviously not time for me to get back together with that, right?
4 months went by. Then I got some great feedback from a first page contest and figured I could tinker a bit. What will it hurt?
Another month went by. Then I won a 30 page crit by the awesome Gabriela Lessa, and I knew it was time for the break to be over.
She liked my pacing and that I don't cram in a lot of background information... but she also felt a bit lost and wondered if I was choosing the wrong details of background information to include. She thought my writing was polished, but she felt like the story was waiting too long to get started. Her comments were spot-on and, even better, after thinking about them, I was able to figure out how to fix it! Well, most of it. I'm pretty sure.
So I ran scraping through the first few chapters of my book again. I removed a character. I cut one scene and added another with more tension and less blah-blah. I identified which details of background information were important, ran them through a trash compactor, and found them new homes, earlier in the story. Then I hunted down their clones and decided to trust my readers to catch it the first time. At the end of the day, I'd cut over 900 words. 900 words from my "completed" manuscript.
I'm not quite done, and I have some more nits to pick before I'll be satisfied that my manuscript is "completed" again. Meanwhile, I'm still revising that query with the help of some great friends.
Maybe in a week or so, I'll be ready to be on another break. Then I can get back to fraternizing with my new-shiny story. Won't that be nice?
Have you ever gone back to edit a story after a long break?