It’s hard to be objective about my writing. I find it a lot easier to pick out errors when I critique someone else’s manuscript than my own. Sometimes I disregard what I know is right, thinking I can break a rule once. The trouble is, once leads to twice and more. It becomes a hard-to-break habit, which often I don’t realize I’m doing.
One example is using too many adjectives. The first edit of my recent release, the romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, turned up tons of adjectives which needed to be eliminated. I knew better.
I was also horrified to discover many instances of the word “that” which had crept into my manuscript. How mortifying!
The mind and the eyes can play tricks. Mine are adept at correcting the spelling of a word by inserting a missing letter or cutting one off. Such a gift is well and good when reading for pleasure, but a huge drawback when editing for publication.
I’ve found a few ways to combat these problems.
One is the dimension of time. By putting my manuscript aside for a month or if that’s not possible, even a week, helps me see my manuscript at a distance, almost as if it’s someone else’s.
Another is the dimension of space. I hand my manuscript over to someone else to edit, but make sure it’s someone whose opinion I trust. When I get it back, I need to objectively consider the problem points the other person has noticed. Doing so isn’t always easy, because my writing is a part of me and I hate to find anything wrong with it. I have to remind myself to keep my distance by leaving my emotions out of it.
You may want to consider a few of these techniques yourself. If you have any other methods of keeping your distance from your manuscript, I invite you to write a comment below.
Morgan Mandel, is the author of Two Wrongs, a Chicago area mystery, and Girl of My Dreams, a romantic comedy about a reality show contestant.