This is not an easy time in the manuscript's life. It's a time of anger, denial, self-doubt, self-abuse, restlessness, uncertainty, depression, and lack of desire to keep on living. It's kind of a mid-life crisis; the manuscript wonders, 'What's my purpose in life? Why am I working so hard and getting nowhere? Why are some manuscripts further ahead than me, and they haven't put forth nearly so much effort?'
What your manuscript needs to understand is, we've all been there. We know what it's going through, and it doesn't have to suffer through alone.
Here are some steps I've come up with to help your manuscript with the deep, internal probing.
First, focus on simplifying. Ask yourself these questions: Do I really need all of these plot lines? What about these characters? Can I cut the first two chapters and start at chapter 3?
Second, focus on improving. Now that you've simplified, take a look at what's left. Ask yourself: How can I make these characters more real? What plot lines are forcing these characters through the oil press and which ones aren't pushing them along? How can I make my plot lines more significant? What can I do to bring the setting to life?
Third, focus on magnifying. You've done some major reshaping to your life. Now expand. Ask yourself: How can I make these characters grow? What struggles can I give them? How can I connect these two plot lines? How do I make this story flow? What transitions can I add?
Once your manuscript has gone through these steps, it will feel much better about itself, more at ease, and ready to begin again. It's a fresh start. A new life.
Next time, we'll talk about what to do when your manuscript goes through these steps and realizes it needs to do some major purging.
What steps has your manuscript taken to get out of a mid-life crisis?