Thursday, November 5, 2009

Different Kinds of Manuscripts

As I sip on my Skinny Snowman Latte (with an extra shot of espresso), wondering whether I should get started on my new manuscript or play on the interwebs and fritter away my day, I find myself thinking of how there are different kinds of manuscripts out there.

  • The One You Love: This is the manuscript that you love, and maybe your mother loves, but that's about it. You can't sell it, it has a stack of rejections, and even when you try to workshop it, people's eyes glaze over and they nod politely and say things like, "Oh, it's very...er, creative." And although you love it, you can't bear (or can't see how) to change it. "Revisions" mean adding a scene or changing a few words, or fixing grammar--never deleting, rearranging, or doing significant changes. When you submit it--and you will, and you'll submit it to early--it will be rejected, and you will be shocked--shocked!--that anyone could possibly put it down.
  • The One You Hate: For whatever reason, this one isn't good enough. Maybe it's a drawer novel that you've recognized as drawer novel and can't stand it, maybe a critiquer wrote nasty things about it, maybe the rejections beat you down, maybe you just edited it to death. Whatever the reason, you hate it. You probably will never get to the point where you edit it again, and it will probably never see the light again...if you haven't already deleted it.
  • The One You Love to Hate: This one is written with blood, sweat, and tears. As you wrote it, it was the one you loved....as you revised it, it was the one you hated. Now that you've both written and revised it, it's the one you love to hate--you love what it is, but you hate what it isn't. You know it's not perfect--nothing ever can be--but it's as perfect as you can make it...now. This is the one you submit with professionalism, by which I mean, you select specific agents you think will like it, consider their comments if they reject it, and submit again without cycling into rage/depression. You know if--when--it gets accepted, you'll have to edit it again, and you don't dread the idea...you kinda sorta look forward to it.
As I start submitting one manuscript and begin working on another, I realize that, for the first time ever, I've got a manuscript that I love to hate. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside--my reaction to it somehow makes me think it's a worthier manuscript than others I've done before.


So, where are you with your manuscripts? Do you think there's another category out there I'm skipping?

10 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, yes!! That's right on the money.
I have one of each right now. :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Great post, Beth!

Kristi said...

I'm getting close to the last category but have miles of revisions still to go before I sleep :) Good luck w/ the submission process.

Anonymous said...

I have the one I love that I'm still trying with. And working also on the one I love and hate--like you said. I have these visions of what it can/should be and have to just keep writing in the hope that maybe I can get close.

Good luck on your submissions!

nomadshan said...

How 'bout the one you hate to love -- it makes you cringe when you read back on it, but it's so tied to good memories you can't possibly delete it. The guilty pleasure manuscript.

The Screaming Guppy said...

Love to hate would be how I feel about HOUND right now, though I'm starting to teeter towards raging hatred RAAARRRR!!

/sniff

ElanaJ said...

This is so true. I can name the MS's I have that fall in the love category and the hate category. It's the Love-Hate relationship that's so hard. Because the desire to get it right is so strong.

I also think there should be a category called "Fun." I have a novel I write just for fun when writing becomes so oppressive I can't possibly ever sit down to type again. This is the novel I know I won't edit. I won't try to sell. I won't show to a crit group. I won't even talk about it during my nightly gmail chats. This novel is MINE. And it's just for fun. Does that make sense? Probably not. Le sigh.

Kelly H-Y said...

OK ... I want to know more about the Snowman Latte! It sounds so festive! :-)

Chantal said...

Maybe this is going to sound a little silly, but I think all of my manuscripts have fit each of these categories at one time or another. When I'm 'all done' and ready to put a manuscript aside, it's anybody's guess which category it might land in. LOL!

Merc said...

I think, in a way, I have ideas of novels that qualify as The One You Love. Maybe. I end up scrapping drafts and rewriting from the start until I end up with a draft I can bring to Love to Hate. O:)

(The Hate ones are easy. I just dump them in the old drafts folder on the HD and forget them.)

I'm not quite finished (or started) revising a novel properly to ge it to the Love to Hate stage, but one day...