Saturday, April 3, 2010

Going for Distance

At least twelve people with sharp, eagle eyes and red pens in hand have read my book, Kings & Queens, from beginning to end. And as wonderful as they were in helping me make my work a MILLION times better, I was the one to find the severe glitch in my timeline. And I only did this because I'd put some distance between me and my baby.

I've had this novel written for a couple years, but it's gone through two critique circles and several edits, which have taken time. I've worked on this thing, again and again and again.

Then a few weeks ago, after I was happy with my word count, I let it sit. When I came back to it, that's when I noticed. Following a traumatic incident, I had my MC going to school for two days, then she has an accident on the second day, then I had her off for two days, and back again for two. Um, six days? Noooo! Not in America. The weird thing is I drafted a timeline when I wrote the book, I did, as well as a stat sheet for a baseball game, though I'd only shown a couple at-bats. I pay attention to details. So, I'm not even sure how this albatross landed in my work.

I dunno. Maybe I thought it sounded cuter in the prose to say her (intended) day off had slipped into two, or maybe I felt bad for my MC and absentmindedly changed the wording in a revision round. But, the two days off has been in there a LONG time. I only saw it when I decided to add commentary about how weird the teacher was for introducing fetal pig dissection on a Thursday, when it was a four-day lab. And I was like, wait a minute! If she has her accident on Tuesday...Crap!

Huge goof! At least, it was an easy fix to knock off the extra day of rest, but I cannot stress how important it is to put distance between you and your work. When you do that and come back with fresh scrutiny to see how each scene can be made better, tighter, wittier and more interesting, then glaring errors like this one, have a better chance of hitting you right between the eyes.

Hey, yeah, it smarts for sure, but that little sting is much better than the severe head trauma and lifelong migraines you'd get from having the copyeditor at the publishing house find it, or worse, one of your fifteen-year-old fans.

Write your best, and always, always go for distance.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.


  1. Omg, I totally relate. I came across something similar in my completed ms. And did anyone else find it? No! Of course a few revisions and contest entries later... there it was staring me in the face. Ugh. I would never have found it if not for allowing myself a great chunk of time in between one revision to the next.

  2. I have this happen on a consistent basis. While I wouldn't recommend taking as much time off as I have, I have found the distance from the manuscript has allowed me to cut, cut and refine things I didn't know needed work.

    I've learned and grown so much, and it all shows in revising work I did a couple of years ago.

    Good stuff again, Courtney!

  3. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the post and that you've caught the fiction bug again.

  4. I'm so glad you found your mistake. :)

  5. These things are all too common. I've had characters who had miraculous healings along with myriad other things that are nigh on impossible in the real world