Just What the Doctor Ordered

Yesterday our geriatric lab made a trip to the vet due to a severe limp.  She had reinjured her shoulder while playing catch on Sunday and by Monday morning she could barely walk.  She needed a refill of her pain meds and her steroids to keep the swelling down.  Today she is a different dog.

My manuscripts get that way sometimes. 

During an edit I can take out too much or tinker around in all the wrong ways until I nearly cripple my story, forcing me to start all over again. 

But that’s the beauty of editing.  With our wonderful technology, we can play around with each draft until we find what works. 

It’s like a quick trip to the vet clinic.  When something doesn’t achieve our desired results, we try a new prescription. 

Have you ever tinkered too much with a manuscript and had to start over again?  What elements do you find yourself most likely to over-edit?  Or not edit enough? 

Do you use beta readers to help diagnose your problem areas or do you self prescribe?

Happy editing!

14 responses to “Just What the Doctor Ordered

  1. jmartinlibrary

    I tinker with WIPs all the time. Actually, I don’t even really have an official beta reader. But…I do belong to a great writers’ group. It helps me lot alot.

  2. I once edited too much out of a short story – and didn’t keep a copy of the original. Now I have no means to go back to the much better earlier version with all of the wonderful, creative verbage and I’ve lost the heart to try and rewrite it. Always keep re-writes separate. ;D

    • Victoria,

      You’re not alone: I have made that mistake as well. There is nothing more frustrating than losing great prose. And, like you, I always feel as if the magic has disappeared and can never be recaptured.

      Best luck in your future rewrites and always save the original. Lesson learned : (

  3. I always use a first reader to look at my manuscripts after I’ve revised the first draft at least once and done a little self-editing (and my critique group has combed through most of it).

    Before I go any further with revisions, I want my reader (not a writer or editor) to read the book as though for fun — and tell me any spots that were confusing, boring, or distracting. That helps keep me from tinkering too much and messing up the good parts.

    • Patricia,

      You seem to have the most complete support network of writers I have ever seen. It sounds like you have the best of both worlds–readers and critiquers.

      Thanks for sharing your great method. I hope to find one like that someday.

  4. I have a short story that’s gone through so many revisions that it’s miles away from where it started. And none of them worked. ^_^ Now, it’s stripped down to the first scene I wrote for it, my favorite, which someday I will try to build an entirely new story around.

  5. Over-tinkering is exactly why I’ve got one ms marinating. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it once I get back. I’ve learned so much since its first draft, I’m tempted to either let it go completely or rewrite it altogether. I think I’ll reread it in the summer and decide.

    • Jemi,

      It sounds like you have a solid plan for your over-worked manuscript. I have one like that and I just don’t think I like it anymore. I’ve lost all my enthusiasm for the project as a whole. Hopefully you will enjoy yours on the reread and be able to use it.


  6. My problem is that I liked my MS when I first finished it, but now I know a lot more about writing and am not sure how much editing is going to squelch the voice. It is not the same manuscript that it was, and I’m trying to decide if that’s a good thing, or not. 🙂

    Glad to have you back from your sabbatical!

    • Layinda,

      It’s kind of scary to think of how little we know going into writing. On the other hand, it’s fun to watch our talents emerge as we understand the process better. You have the right mind-set: not wanting to lose your voice. That is so important to a good manuscript. Everything else can be tweaked. Voice is magic. At least in my humble opinion!

      Good luck on the edit. You’ll do fine.

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