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Fine Tuning Your Manuscript – Part One

You've Written "The End" - But Is Your Book Ready?

How to fine-tune your book's manuscript before you send to an editor, agent, or publish - how to make your novel is the best it can be

Okay, so you’ve finally reached the magic words, The End.

But is it really?

Are you done?

Have you really finished your book?

Chances are, you haven’t.

If you’ve only written the words The End, once or twice – if you’ve spent very little time editing, revising, and polishing, you’re likely a long way from The End.

To be honest, very few books are ever written as well as they could have been.

A first step in fine-tuning a manuscript, is determining where your shortcomings are.

First of all, do you have a strong voice?

A voice that pulls in the reader, compels him to turn the page, to see what happens next?

So make sure your voice has strength.

Personality.

An edginess or subtle style all its own.

If you’re unsure of your book’s voice, consider reading and studying some of the classic authors known for their distinctive voice.

Authors like William Faulkner, Larry McMurtry, Garrison Keillor, or Mark Twain.

Next, take a look at your story’s overall plot structure.

  • How does the story unfold?
  • Does it hold together tightly, with seamless transitions from one scene to the next?
  • Or – does it seem disjointed, contrived, and pieced together with duct tape and bailing wire?
  • Is your introduction short and sweet?
  • Does the rising action begin almost immediately?

If not, it should.

  • Or – does your story unfold like the plains of Texas, endless flat and boring?
  • Does anything exciting happen in the first ten to twenty pages?
  • Or – do you meander along, spend too much time on back story and needless rambling?

By page 2, the reader should have a pretty clear idea exactly what the main character wants.

And by page 5, we should know why they want it, and what motivates them.

By page 10 your character should be struggling mightily against numerous booby traps, banana peels, or other obstacles you’ve placed in the way of them attaining their desired object or goal.

These obstacles should continue to arise, with periodic rest periods for the reader to catch their breath.

This rising and falling pattern should slope ever upward to the climax, after which, in a brief denouement, our character should demonstrate how he or she handles their hard-earned success, wealth, love, or fame.

But plot alone won’t a good book make. Your characters, like your voice, must be strong. Or at least getting stronger as the story progresses.

The reader must empathize with your protagonist, and enter into their struggles.

Are you simply telling the reader about your character?

Mac was an obnoxious bore.

Or are you showing and demonstrating through characterization and action?

Mac winked, as he reached over and slapped the surprised waitress on the behind.

If you think about it, your characters are the story.

Therefore, write like it.

How to revise and polish your manuscript before submitting for publishing, to an agent, or even an editor - tips, ideas, examples, and everything you need to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Now look at your dialogue.

Does is sound fake or contrived?

“Would you like to go into the bedroom and perform coitus, my darling wife?”

Or does your dialogue sound like people – real people?

“Hey honey, wanna go in the back and fool around?”

Like character, dialogue is also story.

So once again, write like it.

Study how people talk in real life.

Very few people speak in complete sentences in day to day life.

Watch people. Listen to them, their voice inflection, the little idiosyncrasies that make each person unique.

If you take the time to do this, your writing will reflect the effort you’ve put in, and thus reward the valued reader.

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