Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicken Coops

Several years ago, I wrote a middle grade novel that I called Legends of the Talking Crow: Fool's Gold. Obviously, it's still in manuscript form and hasn't been published. Despite that fact, it was one of my greatest learning experiences in the world of writing and it had nothing to do with the actual process.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had "finished" this manuscript and with a fire fueled by the excitement at the prospect of procuring an agent, I sent the manuscript off prematurely. Based on roughly 17 queries, I received 4 requests for full or partial manuscripts. I was pretty proud of myself. As the saying goes, pride precedeth the fall. And fall I did. I received four rejections. However, Barbara Markowitz of The Barbara Markowitz Agency was kind enough to not only read the entire manuscript, but marked it up with some incredibly sound advice.

She told me in her letter back that it was a good story, but that the writing needed to be polished. She mentioned that in the future, when submitting manuscripts that you should make sure that it is as flawless as you can make it and to please read through her comments that she had written throughout the manuscript. I did and I still have that manuscript today. The lesson that I learned was that you cannot hurry this process. The fire of writing a novel needs to be doused prior to the editing and revision process. Patience, persistence and an eye for detail are three of the most important things you can have as an author when doing your revisions.

An example of one of my foibles that Ms. Markowitz was kind enough to point out was my use of the word "coop" or "chicken coop" five times within one paragraph. Her point was that I had been incredibly redundant. To this day, I cannot write a paragraph without making sure that I don't do something like that. One of the things that this has done for me is it has forced me to learn to use synonyms a lot more often than I had been. Another thing that it did for me was that I learned to be more concise in what I was trying to say. If I can edit a sentence down to its basic parts and do it in two words, a noun and verb, then I will. It also taught me the value of working through the manuscript with as much patience as I possibly can, then working through it again with the same amount of patience.

The initial excitement is what I crave when writing. That love of story and words draws me in. If it weren't for that, I would never write because the revision and editing is a long and boring process. For most successful writers, though, this is what sets them apart from those who just write out a story and never have it published. God truly is in the details.

That's all for now.

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