How often do you read your manuscript?

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How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby lucilleinthesky » 09 Oct 2010, 20:44

When I read the manuscript I'm working on, I start editing like crazy and nothing gets done. My question for you is:

How often do you read your manuscript? Every 10,000 words? More or less? Or do you hold off on reading until you have the first draft?

This is my first novel and I need insight. Thanks in advance!
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby stephmcgee » 09 Oct 2010, 21:46

I try to avoid re-reading until the draft is done. I'll skim if I need to get a detail right or something. But the only changing I'll allow during this time is if I see a typo. Or if I've flubbed the detail and there's an inconsistency that needs to be fixed so I don't tie myself in knots going forward. But those are usually only a rewrite of one or two sentences.

Once the draft is done, I read through it, changing the color of adverbs and internal monologues. I'll leave comments in the margins for what to change or questions that arise.

Then I start revisions.

I have to be strict with myself about it otherwise I'd never get anything done. The first novel I ever set out to write took me eight years to finally finish that first draft because a) I was in college and grad school so had very little time to write, b) gave up hope on the manuscript a couple of different times, and c) got caught in an endless loop of revising what I'd already written and not moving forward with the narrative.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby airball » 09 Oct 2010, 21:59

I'm going to finish an entire draft before going back over it.

If something changes along the way (ie. I need to tweak or drop a character), I'll sometimes go back and make notes in the margins, but I also maintain a file dedicated to changes I need to go back to make. As you say, in many cases, when you start revising, it's tough to go back to writing.

As Nick Lowe said, "Bash it out now, tart it up later."

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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 09 Oct 2010, 22:19

I reread all the time.

I don't like the "write the whole draft, then edit" way of writing, but that is just me. I write a chapter or two, then go back to the beginning and read to where I've gotten, then write a chapter or two, then go back to the beginning...it is a little bit slower, and I don't necessarily do any major editing or rewriting unless I need to, but somehow it helps me stay grounded in the story and I remember the details better and make better connections throughout the story as I go. It also helps keep me from getting stuck. I can kind of tell early on if I'm heading off course and then I haven't written a bunch that needs to be deleted and rewritten. It also helps when I'm feeling blue about the story because when you go back and reread some of your better chapters, it is nice to see that you're actually really good at what you're doing even if you're feeling like a hack.

It also meant that by the time I got to the end of my first draft (it took about 6 months) the early and middle chapters were in really good shape. I still rewrote chapters and scenes and characters during the second draft, but the bones were solid. I'm on my third edit right now. I'm adding a character and altering some of the plot to make it all better line up, but it doesn't require whole chapter rewrites anymore.

Besides, you'll have to find your own way of writing. Not everyone writes the same way. That's ok. Good luck :-)
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Bron » 10 Oct 2010, 03:58

I'm the same as the first two commenters. I don't reread (except if I need to check a detail) because otherwise I get caught up in editing. I also think the manuscript stays fresher for me that way, so when I do read it at the end of a draft, problems jump out at me more than if I've reread the story a thousand times. But as Sommer said, different approaches work for different people and it's just a matter of figuring out what works for you :-)
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Moni12 » 10 Oct 2010, 10:25

I used to reread all the time. Anytime I took a break from writing or just to assure to myself that what I had was good. With my current work I forced myself to complete the first draft before I reread. When I did reread, though, was when I began to add new scenes, expand on others and taking other things out. I'm almost done with second edit and am adding in smaller parts and the final revision will be to make sure everything goes smoothly. I just feel like if I reread too many times than I'll lose track of what I'm doing or want to redo everything completely. Somehow, waiting helps me stay on track. The only thing I've had to go back for was to check out names of characters, I finally wrote them all down as wells as their relationship to the main character.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Claudie » 10 Oct 2010, 15:55

I just bang out the first draft quickly, without looking back. To be honest, I started novelling with NaNoWriMo, so I learned to suppress my editing impulses quickly. I let the story carry me forward, never looking back.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Truth and Fiction » 11 Oct 2010, 07:15

I don't read the whole thing straight through until well after the draft is done. I will often, however, read and lightly edit the previous chapter before moving on to write the next one. And of course I'll go back to check on any details, etc., that I might need to remember to move forward.

Once the draft is done, I set it aside for at least 4-6 weeks. I want to be fresh when I finally read the whole thing and begin edits.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Margo » 11 Oct 2010, 09:15

For short stories and novels, I reread the previous day's work to get back into the flow and emotional space. For shorts, I might also reread the whole WIP maybe once a week. Reading the project too much tends to wear down the impact for me. For a novel, I might reread a chapter when it's finished, before moving on to the next chapter. I usually don't read more than that on a novel until the first draft is done.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Evelyn » 11 Oct 2010, 11:23

Interesting question.

I've lost count of how often I read the manuscript. A hundred times maybe? Like others, each day I read what I've previously written and edit as I go. I find this helps with the flow between scenes and keeps the story cohesive and moving along. By the time I've reached the end, I've read the entire thing and edited it multiple times. Then I set it aside for a month or so. When I come back to it, I read it again and re-write and edit some more.

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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby thrintone » 16 Oct 2010, 16:54

I read it often enough to remind myself where I am in the story. Does that make sense?

My guess would be every 20,000 word or so...but probably more frequently at the beginning.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby Louise Curtis » 17 Oct 2010, 15:02

I don't read the first draft until it's done. Then I edit it once or twice. Then I wait at least two months, and edit again. Then I repeat the wait-then-edit until the first reading after a wait shows me it's good. Then I edit some more, and submit it somewhere. After that, I edit once a year or once a rejection, depending. Or I throw it away.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby JeffLM » 22 Oct 2010, 19:35

They have to pry my cold dead fingers from my manuscript for submission. I can't stop rereading it and editing.
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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby dgaughran » 23 Oct 2010, 01:52

Every day.

I write everything with pen and paper first going over whatever chapter(s) I am working on that day until I am happy. The next morning, I always type up what I wrote the day before, to get my brain into writing again, and a lot of editing gets done at this point. Sometimes I will print the pages out and re-work them, but usually I am happy enough with them at this point in the draft, and just move on to the next section I want to work on. And so on.

Sometimes I get stuck, gummed up, and then I put it in a figurative drawer and think of other things. Try and work on a story. Do some research. Read a few books. Go for a few beers. Do something completely different. Eventually, it calls me back, I can feel it tugging at me. I don't usually respond until the following day. Works best that way.

I've tried cutting out the middleman, and just working on the laptop, but everything I write seems so dull and lifeless, I go back to pen and paper every time. Only problem with this approach is I have printed out my entire book maybe 20 times (for editing purposes alone), which aint cheap.

I think there's only me and Cecilia Ahern left who still write by hand.

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Re: How often do you read your manuscript?

Postby k10wnsta » 23 Oct 2010, 14:48

Although I've only written one manuscript (and it's still largely in an early draft state), one thing I learned very quickly was that I simply cannot properly revise my own writing within the first few days of writing it. If I do, I catch myself processing words that are several words ahead of what I'm actually reading (because I know what it's going to say) and I pass right over glaring flaws.

Of course, in dealing with this, I have this story in my head that's so crisp and clear and well-mapped out I just had to get it down on paper. That done, I now spend an average of 3 days reading, revising, and rewriting each individual page. But my attention span doesn't allow me to work on significant segments in a linear fashion. A week ago I was in Chapter 10, a few days ago I was in Chapter 2, today I'm working on Chapter 27. It's like a psychotic jigsaw puzzle.

But I'm so impressed with the literary quality of the story (I seriously can't fathom how it came out of my head at times), I figure I'll reread it thousands of times over the next several years to insure every nuance, detail, and line of dialogue is where it needs to be.
How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.
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