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Mom Wars is almost ready!

It wasn't easy revising while my daughter was home sick with croup, but I stayed up late every night and believe Mom Wars is in amazing shape.  Wahoo!  But...I'm still not sure it's bullet proof enough to start submitting.  I printed up the full and handed it to my amazing mentor, Joyce Sweeney, yesterday, and can't wait to hear what she thinks!  I know she loves the manuscript from comments she's made while I ran it through her weekly critique group a few chapters at a time (I love how she gives us grades sometimes, and my revised ending got an A+++++, which had me smiling all week).  But I've learned that some things that seem to work when reading a few chapters, aren't always strong enough when you read through the full manuscript.  Thanks to the help of several amazing beta readers, and going through the full a zillion and one times, I'm pretty sure it will be 1000% ready to submit soon. 

Here are some areas I tackled on my last few rounds:

1.  I went on a serious streamlining mission.  If anything wasn't absolutely necessary to my manuscript, I banished it to my orphan file (which is mind-blowingly huge now).  I cut over 6,700 words in a week!  And guess what?  I don't miss any of them!  I think my pacing is much better now, plus I found two areas where I mentioned something that wasn't necessary at that moment, and they ruined surprises later in the manuscript.  So...Mom Wars went from about 41,500 to 34,800 words.  I wonder what will happen when I get the overall and line suggestions back from Joyce! 

2.  I found a new way to look for overused words.  I tried to keep an eye out for my biggest offenders, like: just, suddenly, so, and crazy amounts of ellipses the past few weeks, and noticed that heart came up quite a few times.  Jen's stomach also flip-flopped a lot.  I created a page full of charts, one for each overused word I wanted to track, and wrote down the page numbers for all of them.  I also kept track of letters to her best friend (which I later decided to cut completely) and blog entries the main character makes.

3.  I made sure I tied up all the threads by the end, and that all character arcs were complete (there's a trick for this, too--you can create a file for every conversation with or about each character and read them straight through to make sure the arcs all work). 

What do you look for during the last few rounds of revision on your manuscripts?
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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
So proud of you!!!!!
Apr. 23rd, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kim. And thanks again for all your great advice. You rock! :)
Apr. 23rd, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
Congrats. I love-hate revision. I look for POV issues and make sure my dialogue is relevant instead of chatty. Good luck.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the congrats and luck! And LOL, I know what you mean. Sometimes, it feels like a revision will never end, but I get so excited every time I find a way to strengthen my manuscripts, that most of the time I love revisions!

I make sure dialogue (and narrative) move the story along, too. Sometimes, I let things I love slide through in earlier rounds, but often nix them during a major streamlining mission when I'm close to submitting a manuscript.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
Yay! I love being at that stage. I hope good things for this ms!

I like to check for overused words by running my whole text through Wordle. Names should show up often. Shrugs and sneers should not. ;)
Apr. 23rd, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Rose!

I love Wordle, too! But when I tried to use it for this manuscript, it didn't work. Maybe it's something with my laptop (I had to buy it in December when my computer died). I tried it on IE and Firefox, but neither one worked. And wow--I'd only run a chapter through at a time (and just hit a few of them). I never even thought about running a whole manuscript--you can do that at one time?

Apr. 24th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
It's always worked for me. Strange that it's not taking much from your computer. Maybe they changed something? I don't have it right off hand, but I know there's another site (that I think Cheryl Klein mentioned in her book on writing/revising) that you can also run a whole ms through in. It gives you a choice of how many words in a string you want to search for as most frequent words/phrases.
Apr. 27th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
I think it might be an issue with my laptop. I'll have to try to troubleshoot it soon, because I miss being able to see my most frequently used words.

Thanks--I'll check Cheryl's book for the other site, in case I can't get Wordle working. :)
Apr. 24th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
YAY for progress! And that's a big YAY from one mom to another. Some days it's hard to set aside time for yourself.

I'm crossing my fingers for submissions. :D
Apr. 27th, 2011 03:56 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jen! I'm definitely spoiled by all the time I have to write when my girls are in school. It's so much more challenging to make my goals when they're home (but on the other hand, they're so full of fun and inspiration).
Apr. 25th, 2011 11:09 am (UTC)
First of all, congratulations! My final revisions are done in separate rounds. I like to read straight through for consistency and flow. That's not always easy to do because life can interfere. But I do my best. Then I read more slowly and check for any little typos that may have escaped my eye.

Good luck when you submit. This is so exciting.
Apr. 27th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly! I know what you mean, I love being able to read it straight through--and I notice different things if I read it really slow, fast, or on a printed copy.

After all this hard work, I can't wait to start submitting it soon!
Apr. 25th, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
Yay! That's so exciting. Good luck with it!!
Apr. 27th, 2011 04:03 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Anna. :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


Mindy's head shot
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.


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