Manuscript, Round Three, with “lessons”

And it’s off. Last night I sent the third draft of my book manuscript to my editor at Riverhead.

I’m pleased.

In this draft, I addressed the two issues that my editor raised a month ago:

  1. I made the tone consistent throughout the whole book. Neither too formal nor too informal; sophisticated but simple; myth-like in the appropriate places, accessibly modern in the other parts; personal but intellectual.
  2. I clarified “lessons” without falling off the cliff of clichรฉ.

Since my editor “bought” my book idea two years ago, we have been playing a little game.

He has been pushing me to be more explicit about the lessons about success and failure that arise from the biographical stories I tell.

I have been coy, feeling that “lessons” are always corny and banal, and that what I’m really doing is inviting readers to “meditate” along with me on timeless stories in which they recognize themselves.

Well, I think I have succeeded at merging those two instincts. Can’t wait to hear if my editor agrees. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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13 thoughts on “Manuscript, Round Three, with “lessons”

  1. Good luck, can’t wait to see it published and in a bookstore.

    I side with your editor too. I often do this nasty test on books. Open the book in the middle and start reading from a random page, if I can’t follow or don’t like the book, I may conclude the book is not for me.

    And then I sometime do the “When Harry met Sally” thing by jumping to the last few pages of the book and read to see what the author’s final thoughts are. Again, same criteria.

    • You’re the kind of reader that scares authors. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Here we are, polishing our narrative, making sure that it builds, that no element is out of order, and then …. you open at a random page.

      Oh dear.

    • oh dear. i do the same thing kempton does ๐Ÿ˜ฆ open the book at a random page, usually looking to see if i can stand the writing style. which is why i have never added a penny to a certain jkr’s writing fortune. yet my son owns the c.s. lewis chronicles of narnia series.

      i can say that i really enjoy your writing style on this blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      peter g. has a lovely writing style on his blog… the narrative only appears half way down with a twist. who will make it half-way down if they can’t stand the tone?

    • In my experience, pointing a Glock at the reader’s temple works pretty well as far as getting him or her to read at least halfway down, irrespective of whether or not they can stand the tone of my writing. After that, the clicking sound of cocking the gun usually helps to make them finish the piece.

    • Ha ha Andreas, sorry for scaring your. You see, the randomness in the page ensures the author’s book has good stuff semi-uniformly across the whole book.

      Imagine, if at a random page “n”, the author continues for 7 pages of boring stuff, and the the good stuff starts again at n+7, I will ask, why that 7 pages of boring/non-engaging stuff, are those pages medicine? ๐Ÿ™‚

      dafna, I’ve read all 7 of jkr’s book and this is the secret of how I do it. I think in the last few books, I ended up skipping a large part of the descriptive parts and go straight to the dialogues between the people I care about.

  2. I hope for your sake that you won’t need to revise your manuscript any more.

    Regarding the comments by Kempton, Dafna and others, I, when picking up a book in a bookstore whose cover or title has taken my fancy, usually peruse only the first page of the opening chapter. This is usually enough to tell me if the book is my cup of tea.

    Which is why I’ve yet to read a book by Dan Brown or Stephen King.

    • Dan Brown I can understand but you may have missed out on Stephen King. Still, he does start out poorly (in my opinion) and takes his time in capturing the reader.

      My method on choosing books is read the blurb on the inside jacket cover then the first page and then, if I am still undecided, choose a random page from the middle and read a paragraph. A slow process at times.

    • Thanks, Chrissy! I’m about to get this draft back now. Going very quickly now. My editor in NY said we’re weeks away (from the final manuscript, not from publication).

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