Do you have goals? Do you resist your goals?
I go through phases when I resist my goals. Right now, though, I am on a roll, checking things off my great project management master list. Right now I’m feeling very energized because I finished the next step in Third Strike’s the Charm, the second edit.
Here’s a writing tip I just recorded for myself in a new document called Process. Process is another topic. I’ll do that soon. But this was just something I learned during second edits that I wanted to share.
I decided to go ahead and read the manuscript backwards. I usually reserve that step for the galleys. However, with my publisher, when you have the galleys, the manuscript is locked down in a PDF and you cannot make changes to it directly. You have to give the line number, the error, and the correction. You have to type that all up. I figured it would behoove me to go ahead and do my very detailed proofreading now while I can make big changes directly in the manuscript.
I expected to find typos, grammatical errors, that kind of thing. I did. However, I also noticed story element things. I had a small thematic element that I had not revisited and two minor plot points that would be nice to revisit as well. I’m excited because I feel that rounding off these elements will provide a more satisfying and richer experience for the reader.
I don’t know why reading it backwards did that, but I think the process keeps your mind alert. Any time I read a sentence but realized I had spaced out, I stopped and read it again and again and again until I was concentrating again. So I was really keeping my mind alert. I did about 12 pages a day.
Reading forward, you miss things because you’re caught up in the story. You’ve read it so many times by now that your mind is filling in what should be there.
Theme has been interesting in this book for me as well and what I learned was that there can be more than one theme. I had a theme that I consciously developed and two smaller themes for one of the characters that I almost didn’t develop. One of my critique partners noticed that one of them hadn’t been developed enough. And the other very small one I caught on the reverse read.
My takeaway tip for this is to watch for themes when you are doing a careful read-through of the manuscript. You might find some minor or even major themes or seeds of themes lurking in the text. If so, find ways to weave the themes through in more places or to at least complete on them one time.
Theme is really important. If you are a writer, what do you think about theme? If you are a reader but not a writer, do you notice themes in books?
I’m listening to Freedom by Jonathan Franzen now. Okay, the theme is freedom. I’m 7 discs in and I’m starting to feel the hits on Freedom, and oh it’s glorious. One place to look for your theme is in the title.
My process seems to include this kind of amorphous big picture feeling about the book when I start, and oftentimes I have the title, which suggests the theme. But executing the theme? Yeah, it doesn’t happen in the first draft. Some seeds get planted though. And those were the seeds I noticed in second edits and realized I hadn’t grown.
Here are some photos from an outdoor shopping mall near me where I met a friend for coffee. Nighttime is sure to be more spectacular when the swans are lit against a background of darkness, but I do like the elegant shapes, the Italian style background, the bows, poinsettias and wreathes. Enjoy.