Monday, August 10, 2009

Pillaging, Plundering and Otherwise Wreaking Havoc

I have this manuscript I've been working on for a long time. It lingers at the back of my mind when I'm working on other projects. I find myself gravitating back to it at regular intervals. I finished a good, solid 1025th draft of it at the beginning of the year (that may be a slight exaggeration) and, realizing from feedback and my own trusty gut that it wasn't quite where it needed to be, I summoned the courage to ask for help.

Being the loving, caring, creator that I aim, I handed this little ms of mine over to a couple people whose opinion I trusted and who had never, ever read any previous versions and, therefore, constituted a completely fresh set of eyes. One of these trusted critiquers/evaluators/eyes-of-freshness happens to be the author-equivalent of "the high school quarterback" to my "chess club president." I nearly wet myself when I first asked this particular person to review my precious little manuscript.(Talk about being presumptuous.)

Under penalty of death (or at least of maiming), I agreed to never, ever, ever disclose the true identity of this author-jock in exchange for the wealth of information and advice I was about to receive. I, of course, agreed. I was warned that this person was absolutely ruthless in all matters of editing. "Fine," I said, "I can take it." Oh, the pitiful state of the ignorant!

The manuscript came back. I held my breath. This amazing author/jock/bringer-of-death-and-destruction received a code name that day - "Genghis Kahn" - and thus shall my FAVORITE critique partner ever be known. Why favorite? I'll get to that.

The manuscript was bleeding, torn to pieces, ripped into unrecognizable bits of literary carnage. I happened to be in the midst of another manuscript at the time, so I set this little pet project aside - you know, give it a chance to heal - while I worked on other things.

A few weeks ago I took a peek at that recovering manuscript and the feedback Genghis had given me. Guess what? Genghis is a genius, a certifiable genius. I have started revisions and am completely amazed at the enormous difference I'm seeing already.

Moral of the story... Sometimes all a story needs is a little pillaging.
(there's no more -->)


Annette Lyon said...

Amen and amen. As much as I hate seeing mss coming back to me dripping in bloody carnage, if it's returning from someone I trust, I know it's a good thing. Yay for your Genghis Khan!

Becky said...

I found my way to your fun blog through Annette Lyon and have enjoyed your fun sense of humore.

There are few things better than a good editor--and why is it so hard to find the Genghis Kahn kind?

Sarah M Eden said...

Welcome to the loony bin, Becky. Things are seldom normal around here, but that's cool, right? Right?

Rachel Rossano said...

A good portion of Genghis Khan is needed to convert a good MS to a great MS. I wish I could borrow yours. :)


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