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  • Karina Sokulski

Finishing that First Manuscript

Yep. I did it. I completed my very first manuscript. My goodness did I feel braindead when it finally happened! The accomplishment, however, was the biggest boost of all. I can now say, I've written my first manuscript.

Have I completed the manuscript though? Well, that's a whole other story.

Currently, I'm off to the exciting next stage of venturing from manuscript to book...having a developmental editor read it. I know. Fun. "Editing is always the worst" is what I've been getting from my more seasoned colleagues. I'll probably get the full feel of this experience when it comes to me, but thankfully I have time. Currently, my work is in the hands of a developmental editor and is undergoing its first round of edits. As a result of this, I've stumbled upon having some spare time on my hands.

I'm not one to waste opportunities if I can help it, so here I am writing a blog post about how to prepare for that first round of editing. For those of you who have already reached this stage of the process, you'll pretty much know where I'm heading. For those who haven't, get ready to take that journey with me because here I go.

I pride myself on being able to take criticism, no grain of salt needed! So I can easily expect a bunch of chicken scratch littering the pages of my manuscript (electronic or not). It's an important part of the stage of editing any manuscript. Like any writer before and after me, I want my stories to be the best versions of themselves they can be before they hit the shelves. I think the best way to do that is to work out a process, so here's the one I'll follow for my first time. By now everyone's noticed I love lists, they help me keep organized and think straight when it comes to exciting new experiences. So here's a list on what to do while waiting for that first round of manuscript edits.

1) I'll start off with getting my own ego in check.

Not that I have a swollen head or anything, but I do take well to criticism. I've depended upon it thoroughly in my writing career. Having grown up with Dysgraphia (a writing disorder I did misspell just now), I really depended upon the criticism of others to help me develop my writing skills.

That being said, I definitely took care to let my developmental editor know about my disability. She'll surely find the evidence in my writing and by doings so, we'll both be better equipped to deal with it while refining my first draft. I definitely expect to see a bunch of marks throughout the pages of my manuscript, so I'll just have to take it a page at a time.

2) Next comes my predictions.

I'll definitely have a bunch of grammar splices, but hey, that comes with the territory of a writing disability. That's also what a copyeditor is for, which thankfully I will be receiving help from one when the time comes. Either way, besides the grammar splices we all suffer anyway, I'm sure there's much I'll have to expand upon. I converted a short story to a novel, even as I wrote, I knew there were some scenes I was going to get called out on. I've always had this attitude taking my pieces to critique group, it goes double now since I've just handed over my manuscript to profesionsals.

3) Then I'll consider the possibility of chopping things out.

Skimming through the manuscript I turned in, I can see scenes I love and scenes I could do without. Some scenes I hope my editor won't ask me to cut and instead just refine. Some scenes I do expect to get cut, and won't mind brainstorming an improvement. With this step, I'm mentally preparing myself to do either. I feel more prepared this way and will definitely be more enthusiastic when the time comes.

4) Afterwards, I'll remind myself that the hardest part is over.

Which is true...for me at least. Making up your story as a whole is always fun, but found that editing becomes a little easier because at this stage, I'm no longer having to spend hours generating the concept. Now, I just tweak what needs fixing. I may go several rounds through before it's time, but at least I'll get a sense of where I stand with this upcoming first round.

5) Followed by forcing myself not to look at the manuscript.

That's right. I'll obsess if I let myself look at the manuscript, I turned into editing. My editor told me she's have the project back to me in a couple of weeks. That gives me plenty of time to recharge from completing the first draft and getting ready for my first round of edits.

Until then, I'll be sipping my tea and waiting for my manuscript to come back to me.

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