I love sharing my process. It’s kinda fun. The how-to’s of what I do to plot/pants/polish a manuscript (rewrite…). Takes me forever. But, that is part of ‘my’ process. I’ve shared some of my ideas on process before, but, I am not an expert. Be careful. Why?
Experts are frequently authors. They’ve done well. Experts are all over the place. I Googled the findings of experts and writers of experts were available. Over … three … million. Yikes!
Just like ‘too many cooks spoil the broth…’ whether webinars, conferences, books, coaches, too many experts can spoil not just your process or plot, first lines… they can halt your progress. You become depressed, drink yourself into oblivion, live on the streets… That maybe overstating your situation, but…
You are now too paralyzed to write for fear of breaking the rules, regulations. Your process is decimated, the manuscript is cooked to death and your love for creative writing is gone. Gone, I tell you, gone. Might as well be a ‘Kill Bill’ extra where volunteers set themselves to die (for real).
You’ve buried the manuscript. Taken up skydiving. Without the parachute.
Pfft. Yes, there are great resources you should avail yourselves of, but watch where you step. You pay for expert classes, books, ad nauseum. The pile of money you spend may well be a poop full of crap. If you find yourself unable to follow your plot today, or your manuscript is simmering for those two weeks, read. This is true advice. Not from me, but a bazillion writers. That many writers who say the brief statement, ‘If you are not reading, you are not writing.’
I mean, read fiction. The genre you love, the genre you don’t. Immerse yourself in books that are clean, spotless, and I don’t mean the edit. I am talking about voice. Your voice. I hate horror. But I love Stephen King’s writing. Flawless. Characters that make a novel scarier. Oh, please, do not watch movies based on the book. You will never get a real voice, inner thoughts, emotions as actions.
Now the destruction begins. Have you killed your darlings? Fixed plot holes? Made characters three dimensional? You are ready for your critique group. They will find more.
And you are allowed to weep. The important aspect is ‘listen to your critique group’. Sweep, dust, clean the mangled manuscript, and get your beta group. Whatever you do, do not use friends, family as readers. They don’t want to offend you. Allow the attacks. You’ll be stronger for the battle. Again, listen to your beta group.
Everything is subjective, in the eyes of the groups that read your work and in the opinions of the experts. Are you satisfied? Did the changes help?
I keep copies of what I have cut, one never knows when that scene will be pertinent to the next novel. A bit OCD I suppose, I keep every copy from a daily write in a file. Because the previous scenes/language/character might have been better than what you pen right now. Yeah, Sherlock. Keep it safe.
So there you have it. Again, my process. Listen, or listen not. It has meaning for me, perhaps not for you. But for cryin’ out loud, do not … do not run to everyone who calls themselves an expert.
Don’t drink the poison, and please, don’t sign this.