Monday, September 27, 2010


I am currently working on a book I originally wrote in 1998. I polished it then to the best of my ability. I have read it several times. Time hasn’t given me objectivity; instead, I am more in love with the story than ever.

I am thankful for an honest critique partner, and she more or less hates it (she wouldn’t say so in so many words).

What’s the truth—a fairy tale romantic story or a dismal failure? Ultimately, my editor and my readers will decide.

But it brings up a problem many writers struggle with: how do we bring fresh eyes to a manuscript we’ve rewritten half a dozen times or more? Am I seeing this manuscript through the fond eyes of a mother or with a critical editor's eye?

I have no easy answers to that question, but here are a few ideas:
• Move on to another project if you have time.
• Leave this project alone between edits for as long as you can.
• If you have time and willing friends, give the manuscript to someone who has never seen it before.
• Read the manuscript aloud. Even better, have someone else read it aloud.
• Read the book from end to beginning.
• Dialogue with a trusted partner. What were you trying to do? How did it fail? (How) can it be fixed?
• Look at individual elements of the story, such as: character descriptions (consistent?); dialogue (each person unique?); timeline.

What ideas do the rest of you have? Do you struggle with this problem and if so, how do you handle it?


  1. This is really tough. The options you have given sound good. But even then we should be motivated enough to give it another stab.

  2. I struggled with this BIG TIME with my first novel. I think I revamped the thing ten times. Seriously. It's still not published. sigh It did teach me a lot about the craft, but I also found I learned MORE when I started on a new book. Funny how that works. Putting together a new plot with fresh characters just brings out fresh ideas, and then, it opens your eyes to the craft in a fresh new way. Someday I still hope to publish that story, but it's just not time yet. And I've come to accept that. :-)

  3. Thank you, Darlene, for an honest post that so many of us can relate to!