What’s great about your manuscript?

ThursdaysChildren

Sit down. Write novel. The End.

Yes, you can do that. I did … twice! But the stars aren’t always going to align for new writers. That first try, the second, third and so on may just be building to that great piece you know you have in you.

And yes, I KNOW I have that great piece in me. Write and practice and revise and edit and query and take stock of rejections and page requests. In every part of this process, I’m trying to identify growth. It’s a novel, it’s art, it’s subjective … but only to a point. We can all do better and we know it when we see it, whether agents or editors buy into the whole book is a different story and it isn’t up to you.

The writing is up to you, and improving each time is up to you.

I have two manuscripts and zero agents. Does that mean I’m 0-2? No, because there are great things in the first one and even better things in the second. Take time to identify where you’ve improved and what’s better and why it’s better.

Then, when you start another project, you can take those little successes with you. For example, my first ms was mostly about plot and concept. I love the plot, I love the concept. The action is watching the characters get tossed around by what they’re faced with.

So when I look back at it, I pat myself on the back for concept (not to mention just writing 70K words in the first place!)

With my second ms (now being queried), I can see the growth. I again love the concept and enjoy pitching it. Actual joy in pitching it.

The real growth was in characters. They are much more interesting and 3-dimensional, and they have to be. While the concept is the backdrop, the real action in this story is character interaction. I’m proud of this story and its characters. In a recent twitter pitch contest, I spent half the time tweeting AS one of my characters.

Again, it’s all subjective, but I know this: The best thing I’ve done as a writer is create a character named Aniyah. I adore her, feel for her, feel her words come out of me without having to be prompted. I never have to say, “What would Ani think of that?” Her reaction is on the page already. It’s automatic.

I love both manuscripts and have great faith in them. But at the end of the day, if I end up with two manuscripts and zero agents, I can smile and say, “This time, I took character development to the next level and created a real gem.”

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11 thoughts on “What’s great about your manuscript?

  1. Mark- this post is awesome! Congrats on your manuscript and I hope you’re able to find a great agent! I really admire your confidence in your work and I wish that ALL writers had this confident yet objective view of their own work and of their progress.
    Happy querying : )

  2. So glad you joined us this week. I’m renaming your post “Inspired by Myself” 😉

    As for me, it took 3 novels to get an agent, so you’re probably getting really close. Also, having written 3 books, and having learned things during the writing of each, I was able to go back and rewrite book 1 so that it’s much better. Being euphorically in love with your characters, feeling that they live inside your brain (and sometimes it’s hard to believe that’s really the only place they live) – I don’t know if it’s possible for non-writers to imagine what that’s like.

  3. I enjoyed your post, I’m in the same boat. My first MS is terrible, just really awful. I continued to write, joined an awesome writing group and kept at it. I’ve got a few nibbles on my second book and a few full MSs out on the third. Each one builds on the strengths of the last! Good luck with your work!

  4. This is so true, but it took me four books to see it. You’re awesome to be so enlightened already! My first three were just me testing the water, pantsing my way through, reading about the craft but not internalizing anything. Then something about the fourth one clicked and I suddenly saw my weaknesses (the same problems in all three books!), and knew how to approach getting better. Great post! It’s nice to look back and see how far we’ve come, isn’t it?

  5. Thank you. This post is just what I needed. 🙂 I’ve got a growing collection of manuscripts under the bed, but I know this writing business is one where you fail and fail until you succeed. LIke you, I’m improving, learning the craft and on my way, even if I’m not quite there (agented, published) yet.

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=341

  6. The stars don’t always align for old writers either. lol. You are right, with every revision and new WIP we hone our skills and gain confidence. That, and patience, are enough to forward our dreams. Lovely post. 🙂

  7. GREAT post! And same here… Each new MS I write feels more comfortable, flows more easily, and just seems to fit (though also presents new challenges I get to wade though!). MS #2 was my *lucky* story, BUT MS #3 was even better, and now with #4, well…things are pretty good. Keep at it – your passion is infectious!

  8. This really goes with the post I did today. I actually seem to be having the opposite problem. I’ve written three manuscripts–four if you count totally revising the first. BUT, somewhere along the way I feel like my writing leveled out. Like…the stories are different, but I’m not sure the actual WRITING is getting better and that really bothers me but i have no idea what to do about it or how to continue to improve. I mean, I’ve read a bunch of books on writing, but most of them seem to be written for beginner writers so I don’t feel like they’re getting me anywhere anymore. Any suggestions???

    ~Tamara

  9. You capture the duration and the need to see this writing journey for what it is beautifully. I thought it was going to be much easier – but like you, although I love my first MS, looking back I can see how much further I’ve come. Like slowly all the advice I’ve been reading has been sinking in.

    So good luck on your journey – am so glad you joined the blog hop!

  10. That’s sounds great, and a really healthy attitude to have.
    I feel, we don’t every have to let go of of first novels–if we don’t want to. You could put it in ebook form, maybe under another name, after you get an agent. Or look at it with fresh eyes years later…??
    Heck, your agent may even ask to see your other work. You just never know.
    And character building is where it’s at! best of luck. Welcome to the hop!

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