Friday, June 12, 2009

Manuscript Analysis and a Voice for Your Words

I've completed just 1800 words since Wednesday. My writing process for those few pages was unusual for me. I did a page, and then needed a break. An hour later, I went back and did another page, and so on over an eight-hour period. For the life of me, I can't think what was behind this odd, broken word flow, but I hope it doesn't happen too often; I can't work that way. If my fingers don't fly for a sustained period, about three hours, I lose all interest.

So many of you commented about my full manuscript request, and it was lovely to hear from you all. I could feel your excitement for me, and understand that it brings everything we're pursuing more sharply into focus when one of us has this kind of news. I don't want you to get your hopes up for me too much, however. I mean, it's bad enough that I could have to deal with a rejection on it, but I certainly wouldn't want to spoil those positive aspirations for your own work. Let's simply be optimistic about it, keep ourselves on an even keel, and just wait and see.

Grammbo has this useful post at The Bookshelf Muse dedicated to manuscript analysis and it's an interesting read. We all have doubts about our work from time to time. They come from out of the blue, for no reason I can thing of (other than to get rid of any arrogant tendencies, and to fill us with humility). This blog makes some not-so-obvious points about possible writing flaws that could wound our darlings.

Darcy Pattison at Revision Notes is always coming up with useful advice. I've incorporated many of her suggestions into my own work, both literary and technical. Her latest must-try is this text-to-voice site. We know we should all be reading our work out loud. This is essential. But our own voice is so familiar, and it's good to hear someone else speak the words back to us. Natural Reader has a free download, and the voice is wonderfully robotic, like Hal in 2001, a Space Odyssey, when his power packs were being removed - remember? But if you can put up with that, it's a good exercise. "Hal" doesn't seem to read more than a couple of paragraphs at a time, so you have to constantly click on the next passage for him, but, if nothing else, it's fun.

There's a new listing in my Submission Stats. Those queries sent out more than three months ago, with no response to date, are now separate from the possibles. Today's Stats are as follows: No Response 10, Pending 9, Partials 1, Full 1, Rejections 12, for a total of 33.

I intend to finish the first section of my book this weekend, the part that involves World War II England. You already know that I'm sad to do this, but at the same time I'll be more or less permanently back in today's world, without the emotional ups and downs that earlier time gives me as I write about it. My Toronto protagonist is about to enter a brand new stage of her life. It will be like starting a new book!

Have a great weekend!


sallyhanan said...

I agree about the reading aloud part, and would also suggest to writers that you print out your work for your last edit. I found numerous flow problems in mine that were much improved after correction. I think that reading something on paper is vastly different to reading it online, and both should be done to bless your manuscript before sending it off (with gnashing of teeth).

Fran said...

Sally, Absolutely! Guess I figured everyone new about the typo imp that only appears on the printed page!

Bonnie Kozek said...

hi fran,

humm. 1800 words. i'm envious, i think. i write one word at a time ... literally. sometimes i spend a day looking for just the right word that will follow the just-right-word that i found to precede it. sometimes it takes longer than a day, sometimes less. but for some reason, i have never found "word count" a measure of my success. now, you might think that means that i'm too in love with the words -- but, although, they are precious indeed, i have no problem deleting entire sentences, paragraphs, pages, if they're not working with the flow. i guess however you can get it done, that's the way to do it. writing is funny like that.

Fran said...

Bonnie, It doesn't matter how we get there, just so long as we get there. I try not to interrupt my flow with too much analysis. Kills the muse...