Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Getting Reacquainted

Dining Out--Guy Pène du Bois (1884-1958) Maybe this post should be about the family I neglected the past few days before my project deadline. But no, it’s actually about a manuscript that I need to dust off and start working on again.

In the middle of the revisions for Pretty is as Pretty Dies, I wrote the next Myrtle Clover book for Midnight Ink. So about a year ago I started it, then I finished the first draft in February.

I fiddled with it in March and early April. But then, in April, I started working on the Memphis Barbeque series for Berkley. And I haven’t picked up the Myrtle Clover draft since.

Now the plan is that I submit this manuscript in November to Midnight Ink. That gives me two months to really make it shine. I can rewrite any passages I’m not pleased with, or even chuck huge parts of it and overhaul it. It’s enough time.

Simultaneously, of course, I’ll be concocting Lulu’s further adventures in Memphis for Berkley’s book two.

I don’t think this will be a problem. (Okay, I’m putting this in print. So if I start wigging out in a month or so, remind me.) After all, revisions and drafting a manuscript are two completely different processes. I’ll revise part of the day and I’ll be creative the rest.

I’m really, really curious to pick up the Myrtle Clover book today. I’ve got to find the USB drive it’s on, actually---my laptop’s OS was blown away and reinstalled several times since April. And I’ve gone through two laptops since then. Got to get my hands on the right backup drive.

I wonder what mistakes will jump off the page at me. I wonder if the jokes will be as funny as they were when I wrote them, or if I’ll frown and groan and rewrite them.

This is my plan for reacquainting myself with the manuscript:

Read it all the way through.

Make notes of only big problems. Don’t micro-revise on the first reading.

How strong is the basic plot premise? Are there any big holes? Does anything not make sense?

Have I reintroduced these characters? Have I made it balanced enough so that first-time readers can get to know them and earlier readers won’t get tired of back story?

Have these characters grown and changed since the first book?

Is the basic timeline sound?

Do the characters sound like themselves?

This is the first time I’ve put a manuscript down for this long and then come back to it. Usually, if it’s put away for five months, then it’s in my little manuscript graveyard. But it was only circumstance that made me put this project away. Now I’m excited to read it again with fresh eyes—at first to get reacquainted and then critically.

Do you ever put your projects on the back burner? Does it help? Can you pick up on your original train of thought and plan for the book again?