Hands Off the Manuscript!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s nothing like the feeling of typing “The End” when we finish a story. We breathe a sigh of relief, maybe shed a tear or two . . . and then the euphoria disappears. Almost immediately, we start thinking about all of the things that we want to change—the character’s motivation, that one battle scene, etc.


No. Do not open that manuscript.

At that present time, we are too close to our manuscript. We’ve sweated and bled and cried and moaned and sacrificed. We cannot be unbiased readers/editors until we’ve put space between us and our story. We won’t see the blaring plot holes or realize that our character started out as a brunette but then magically became a red-head in four chapters later.

Put the manuscript away for a while.

Enjoy your kids, reintroduce yourself to your spouse. Get a dog. Ride a pony. Hop backwards from Virginia Beach to San Francisco. Anything that will take your mind off of your novel. Hey, the smarter thing might be to start your next project (that’s what I’m doing).

Most experts suggest anywhere from 4-6 weeks for optimum distance. Sometimes that’s not possible due to deadlines or other issues. I would say at least 2 weeks, but even then some stuff might still be too fresh.

Right now, my latest novel is in the hands of my critique partners. I finished on January 28 and will not pick it up again until at least March 1 (as that is when the critiques are due back). That’s a little over four weeks. In the meantime, I’ve decided to teach myself to use Scrivener and start on my next fantasy project. It’s going to be a fun one!

If you’re afraid of forgetting something, jot down some notes.

If you don’t think you have the time–make the time. If you have a deadline, plan accordingly, giving yourself that extra window of time.

Resist the temptation, and do right by your novel. Keep your hands off the manuscript!

About Ralene

Whether I'm wielding a writer's pen, an editor's sword, or a social media wand, I always have my head in some dreamer's world. Let's make it SHINE!
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  1. Hi Ralene,

    Coming here from the iBlog group!

    Great tips for those of us who can’t seem to stop tinkering! I plan to write a Kindle book soon, and I’ll certainly keep this in mind!

  2. So true. A fresh perspective can make all the difference, and time and distance are the only ways to get it.
    How’s Scrivener? Some people swear by it, but it looks so busy and involved.

    • Scrivener is awesome. One of the best things about Scrivener is that it can be as involved or as simple as you like. It took me only a couple of hours skimming the user manual to figure out how to use all the basics, and even some of the fancier stuff. :)

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