In a lot of ways, refining a manuscript is like carving an ice sculpture. You start off with broad strokes and cuts to create a general outline. Then, as the structure within reveals itself, you need to make finer chips and cuts. The last step involves careful and delicate movements to shave off the remaining millimeters of unneeded ice. It takes time, but it leads to a polished, shiny, spectacular piece of art.
Developing the skills required to create a sculpture takes time. It takes another skill set entirely to make it a masterpiece. The same goes for writing. This lesson I learned quite recently. Today actually.
Let me share. My most recent manuscript is “close” to being “ready.” I’ve checked and rechecked the prose, spelling, flow of sentences, and overall plot, looking one more time for mistakes, holes, and wonky grammar. I’ve considered every comment my beta readers have made. I’ve tweaked my query letter again. I’ve ensured my synopsis is both concise and streamlined.
So, on the eve of wooing agents, I pause. What’s holding me back? Something’s off. But I’m not sure what. I’ve done all I can, right? All the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed (forgive the cliché, but it fits!). So, what is it? Why can’t I see it?
Guess what? Seeing the “obvious” isn’t so easy. Time and time again, I’ve learned the simplest things can often be the hardest. You see, just as finishing off an ice sculpture requires an eye for subtlety, so too, does completing a manuscript.
It means I need to tighten my writing more. I need to eliminate redundancy. I need to bring the reader closer to my characters.
So, what’s my plan to carry this off? I’m gonna listen to the invaluable advice that was just given to me by an experienced, skilled, and wiser writer than I. (She knows who she is! * wink *.) And by doing so, I’m gonna take my writing to the next level.
Bottom line: I’m ready to develop a more discerning eye. I’m ready to see the gleaming sculpture my manuscript can be. Watch out subtlety, here I come.