You With the Pen, Step Away from the Ledge!

What do you do when things go wrong? Seriously, what? Do you have a plan? Some foolproof method of fixing the ambiguous things of which we speak? I'll tell you what I do. I freak out. I freak right the f**k out. Things can't go wrong. They just can't. Oh God.

But they do.

In life, things go wrong all the time. We sleep through alarms, throw the red shirt in with the whites, wake up in strange beds with throbbing headaches and achy asses. Those aren't even the big mistakes. Imagine how bad you could mess up. Or remember that you have, and how desperately you'd like to go back and change those things, make different choices. Fix it.

As a writer, if that's what you are (I'm kind of expecting you are, so if you're not, just pretend, or stand to the side quietly), you're in the unique position of being able to fix the stuff that goes horribly, in your manuscript, at least.

Now, I don't need to go over all the myriad ways your manuscript can suck (writing as loose as baby diarrhea, plots thinner than a lace Doilie). You know where the spots are. They may even be your favorite parts. In fact, they often are. Some of the most beautiful strings of words can be cataclysmic to your story. Who said "kill your darlings?" I don't think anyone knows. But it's so often true. So...

The first thing you can do when things go wrong with your manuscript: DELETE.

Most first time writers tend to over do it describing from multiple angles, reiterating every detail through dialogue, action, exposition, just because they can. It's hard as hell to trim, and it hurts. But it'll hurt a whole lot less than when the rejection letter comes telling you, that you need to learn to edit (It's happened to me, yes), that you've done all the work for the reader, that your sh*t's boring as hell. Grab a great book on editing. Might I suggest, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Another thing you can do: GET A SECOND OPINION.

Oh please do. Don't ever ship off your manuscript without getting some reads on it. Unless you like to spend money on postage and aren't satisfied with simple personal rejection, you'd like to feel the sting of a professional rebuff. If that's the case, then go for it. But make sure you've got an honest reader, someone who knows your genre, and can articulate their difficulties with your manuscript. A writer's critique group is an awesome way to go, and easy enough to connect with (check with your library, local colleges, and bookstores). Of course, you're going to have to be open to a little suggestion here.

What else? BE PATIENT

Don't panic. We all take our characters down the wrong road from time to time, even down the wrong 200 page highway. The only reason they need to stay there, musty and, often, boxed up in our garages, is our own frustration and pride. Let's say you're not locked up in a Mexican jail, there is room for creative solutions. It's like real life with revisions.

Finis.

A quick not to our pimps.

We're extending the pimp contest another week, so if you haven't had a chance to hawk our asses, please do and then let us know. Please let us know. Don't assume we're tracking all the hits to the League, we're basing the entries on your comments, both here and on our personal ljs and blogs. Next week, you might be seeing your name on your new favorite blog!

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