When is the right time to revise your manuscript?
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, just as I finished the first draft of the new manuscript, an idea emerged for a powerful sub-plot. And the question was, should I go ahead and put it in now or wait?
Why wait at all?
I didn't initially understand this concept, but after reading Stephen King's On Writing and James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure (two must haves for any aspiring or established writer in my humble opinion) I understood and put in practice the art of objectivity.
Basic idea is this: once done with a manuscript, you literally set the manuscript aside for a minimum of two weeks (ideally one month). During that period of time, ideas, new conversations and even new scenes will bubble up. You should keep a journal of all these things. But you shall not open the manuscript during this wait period. Like fine wine, you want to give it time for the chaos that was first-draft-writing to settle. But more importantly you want to create distance from the story.
When you crack it open again, you see it anew, and get reintroduced to the characters, see the scenes for the first time, and quickly pick out the dry characters, or boring conversations. You have become more objective with time. You are like a first time reader, unimpressed by the love affair you had with the manuscript just weeks ago.
To add that new sub-plot, I had two choices:
One approach is a whole-manuscript revision, so to lay the sub-plot in properly and not abruptly. I fear that I do not have enough distance to do this yet. And what I'll end up doing is making changes to the entire manuscript without the objectivity and clarity needed.
Another option is to do a very high-level and quick scan of each chapter, to get reacquainted with the scene and if it seems like "it's about right" then you shove it in there. Maybe shove isn't quite the right term, but with sub-plots you do need the touch of a surgeon rather than the brawn of a butcher.
Sub-plots are usually emotional or around life issues. They don't suddenly show up. These are in the inner monologue, in the way the main character reacts to situations. It is part of the persona.
As I write this post, I've changed my mind... I must admit, I had planned to just shove it in there... but I've decided that I will invest the time, starting tonight and do a whole-read of the manuscript and give this sub-plot the justice it deserves.
Now my blog is taking over my writing decisions... oh well. Wish me luck...
Fight the good fight!