Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Cringe to WIN!

So, with agent's blessing, I am revamping a manuscript I wrote over two years ago.

When I pulled the document up, dusted it off, and began reading, I cringed. It was a hot MESS!

I tried revising the first few chapters, and then sent them off to a critique partner to ask for her honest opinion.

Her response? Something close to this: Um...wow. The writer you are today, blows the writer from two years ago out of the water. This kinda...sucks. <- I threw that last part in. :D




But the cool this is, she's RIGHT. I am a different writer today! For that, I am proud.


I mean, you wouldn't believe the gems I found in this manuscript:


He began walking up the stairs. Um, hello, did he begin or did he just walk up the stinking stairs?

Adverbs galore: I softly knocked on the door. How about just using a stronger verb--I tapped on the door. I carefully sat down and waited. I was perched on the seat.

Mostly I was Mrs. state-the-obvious. There was a rumbling in his stomach. He felt excited. <- not needed, the rumbling tells what's going on.

And I took the reader through every painful step of the story: I looked in the mirror. Then I watched my eyes as they changed into a normal shade of green. How about: I watched as my eyes returned to a normal shade of green.

Seriously-imagine how much lower my word count will be when I'm done!

So tell me: Have you revisited any of your old manuscripts lately?

Do it--it'll make you feel pretty good about your current writer self!

24 comments:

Jessica Bell said...

haha! I've experienced this on many occasion. I sucked!

Kaitlin Ward said...

I'm doing an overhaul of a previous ms, too! I'm actually rewriting it completely, but I did recently go skim through the original for good descriptive tidbits (there were a few!) Mostly it was okay (it was only a year ago that I last worked on it, so the writing was decent if not great) but the plot had some gaping issues that made me glad I'd started fresh.
I also recently read one that I wrote probably about three years ago, and the writing: EEK. I remember when I wrote it, I was still in the "my teachers told me to use interesting dialogue tags" phase. ZERO pieces of dialogue used the tag "said". Always "said [adverbly]" or some flowery synonym for said. And everyone thought about everything in such great detail, I had to actually skim parts because I got bored.

Stefanie Wass said...

I read the first para of an old manuscript and cringed. But I still love the story idea. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to dig in and revise.

Cherie Reich said...

Ah, I'm currently rewriting my second novel. Some of it is from scratch, some of it is using what I had and tweaking it, but you are right. It's great to read old things and realize how far you've come.

Cheyanne said...

Haha, this post made my day! I recently dug into an old MS too, and I was so floored by how much the writing sucked I almost didn't continue with it. But..... I think I will now.

K. M. Walton said...

You will no doubt get this manuscript shiny with your hard work and determination!!! Goooooo Christina!!

Meredith said...

That's such an awesome feeling to see how much you've grown in two years! I'm scared to look at my earlier writing, but maybe it will make me see how much I've learned. Good luck tightening that sentence structure!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

LOL. Yes, I've done this and had a similar experience. I cringe when I think I submitted some of them.

JEM said...

I just think it's hilarious you're married to Mr. state-the-obvious :). I also like to read my old manuscripts to see how far I've come. When you're in the trenches you don't really notice the big pictures. Forest for the trees.

Maddy said...

I feel the same way about some old photos I've taken! When I first learned photoshop, I think I would "overedit" everything. Now, I try to stay more true to life with my colors :)

LisaDay said...

Too funny. I particularly like old journal entries that stated my undying love a boy. I noticed I had gone back and edited – black scribbles.

LisaDay

Jen Daiker said...

One of my favorite things to do when I'm in the mood of thinking I suck I revisit my old pieces. I see how well I've done up to now and how much I've improved.

The suckage has dramtically dropped. For that I'm thankful. It's an amazing feeling to watch yourself grow. It's almost a feeling of disbelief.

Melissa Gill said...

Too funny, I did the same thing with an old MS not too long ago. I was the Queen of "she started...."
She started looking, she started walking, she started getting out of bed. Where did I get the idea that that was the thing to do?

Also can I say how very cool it is that your agent wants to see something you wrote two years ago. This is why I tell people to just keep writing, you don't have to abandon your story, but you might have to write a better story to give it a chance to see the light.

Matthew Rush said...

I'm in the middle of it! Sure, it's not ALL bad, but there is much to be improved, and much to be snipped right out. It's amazing how much I've changed just in just a year.

blueviolet said...

I'm going to tell my boyfriend to read this post and see if this helps him at all as he's working on his.

That's great that you're working on an old one though. It means there's something there to work with!

Carrie said...

I've done this. It is amazing to see how much I've changed as a writer over the few years.

Lourie said...

I haven't tried to honestly write in at least 4 years! I do have things from the past tho, that would be very enlightening I am sure!

Chris Phillips said...

I found some old writing on an old computer. I was glad to have the ideas back, but holy craps was it awfully written.

Cheree said...

Lol, I'm scared of revisiting some of my old manuscripts. It's a scary thought of how bad they would be.

Emy Shin said...

I've re-read bits and pieces of my NaNoWriMo from 2 years ago, and it's definitely nice to see how far I've come. :)

SharleneT said...

No, dear, I have my bowling to humiliate me... actually, I have done so and then I'm miserable for days, appalled at what I thought was great. (I've been known to fill disks with my golden words that, in retrospect, are fool's gold... barf...) And, I was having such a nice day, too... Come visit, if you play nice...

Little Ms J said...

I looked at my first manuscript about a month ago. What a nightmare.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I know I'll cringe big time if I were to read the novel I queried two years ago. It landed lots of requests, but things quickly went south after agents got past the first chapter. I'll revisit it one day. I plan to rewrite the book, but with a different mc (which will change the story).

Solvang Sherrie said...

Amazing how much you can learn in a year or two :)