Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Manuscripts (and their Middle)

I'm blogging my way through the alphabet with many others participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge. The A to Z Challenge is the brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out. We post every day in April except Sundays.

Our letter today is M and in my mind, that means Manuscripts. We probably all have many unfinished or first drafts tucked away in a drawer or on a hard-drive. What do we do with them? Why did we give up on them? How many times did we revise them? Are they finished, but were rejected over and over again? When do we know it's time to discard them?

I've read that a lot of authors are bringing their old manuscripts out as ebooks, but honestly, I don't have the courage to do that. My thought is, if a traditional publisher didn't want them, then something has to be wrong with them. I know that's not always the case for rejection but I'm not taking any chances.

All of my manuscripts need rewriting. The Middle--another M word--is what weakens my books. There's something about the middle that's a real challenge for me--even though I know that's where the action is, the heart of the book. I've noticed once I get past chapter three or four, my characters tend to get silly. The scenes seem forced. They can't think of anything to do or say to each other. I have to focus, outline, visualize, put myself in each character's place for the middle of my books to be logical. When I start writing ... I dread getting to the middle!

Some writers construct each scene with such precision. I understand that each scene has a beginning, a middle and end, that it's supposed to further the story, add complications and tension. I think some of this writing stuff we just do naturally. If I work with such precision, I get lost or overwhelmed. But maybe I'm looking at this from the front-side of my manuscript, not the backside. Not after it's written and I'm delving into the layering.

Tell me how you approach the middle of your book. Share any tips you have. Do you outline extensively and know what the middle will bring, or do you sit down and start writing and worry about the middle after the fact? Do you ask yourself any specific questions when you're approaching your middle? Do you recognize when your middle is too easy and unemotional?
Teach me something!


5 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've got lots of manuscripts around but will not discard them ever. At worst they will likely be cannabalized. As for middles, I generally just try to force my way through it. It can be a hard slog.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Charles - slog is the perfect word for me. Also, I'm known for cannabalizing. That's how I got two short stories in anthologies!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Jessy, I don't think I have the guts to bring out my old manuscript as an Ebook.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Rachna, we agree. :)

Glenda said...

I do not write and so I can not answer this for you. But I can say Congrats to you as you do something I admire in so many you write.