Daily Archives: July 27, 2010

White-washing the Grime

Welcome to the verbal tour of my preschool house (yes, I promise this will be relevant to the written word).  As we enter the kitchen, you will note that the walls are freshly painted and the old-style cupboards lend it a quaint air.

No…wait…don’t!  Awww, shoot.

Tell me you didn’t just open that cupboard.  Tell me you didn’t notice the fingerprints of previous owners.  Tell me…

Yep, we did contact paper the shelves.  I know, the inside of the doors themselves could use a white-wash to make them fresh and clean.  Fine.

Ever feel this way about your writing?

You have a perfect manuscript with perfect characters and a perfect plot.  Everyone loves it on a beta read.  You dream of it making the endcaps.  It’s awesome!  Except…

You can’t quiet put your finger on what bothers you.  It feels a bit dull.  Bland.  Smudged.  Used.

Sometimes when we spend so much time rewriting our plot and characters, we lose a bit of the magic we first felt when we wrote our rough drafts.  We’ve read our manuscripts so often that our brains no longer read the words.  They simply regurgitate the idea we know we’ve written.  We’ve given into the impulse to cut and paste and tweak and add, even as we’ve promised ourselves this is the final read-through.  It’s just so darned easy to do on a keyboard. 

This is the time we need to grab our metaphorical paint brushes.  This is when we print out a paper copy of our manuscripts onto crisp white paper and give it an honest read.

I know, this costs money and kills trees.  But I promise you, when you read your completed manuscript this way, it just feels different.  Some of that old magic seeps in through your fingertips.  Your eyes appreciate the clean lines of black print on white paper instead of computer screen shades of gray.  It’s not as easy to tweak a word or two and after a few pages, you see your manuscript in a whole  new light.

It finally feels like a book.

 What tips do you use to trick your brain into thinking it is reading a book instead of editing your manuscript?  How do you white-wash the grime so it feels as if you are reading your book for the first time?