Lit World Interviews

Why are the first few chapters of your book great and then the yawn sets in as you continue reading through your first draft? Did two people write it?

The problem is common, happens to us all, and is something rarely if ever discussed. I believe it is because we know. We. Just. Know.

I call it Manuscript Mental Fatigue (MMF). We put so much into those first few chapters, editing as we go, and you know we do, then we make it past perhaps chapter ten and it’s over. We just write. It’s not that our ideas are but we just aren’t executing them the way we did earlier. A rule given at every turn about something not to do it, but we spent all of that time on those first few chapters. Instead of letting the words flow, we edited and tried to make those first chapters excellent…

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    • Helen Treharne says:

      Me too! With my first book I self edited in a very linear way and began to zone out. I had to take some time apart from it as I almost had “manuscript blindness”. I definitely learned from that. With the third I am starting with the scenes which interest me the most, generally twisty turny things, introductions to new characters and the big plot reveals, I’ll fill in the link bits afterwards. So far I’m finding that my writing is fresh and the quality better. I won’t attempt a full first edit until I’m happy with the individual elements. It’s a new approach for me but it seems to be working – and less daunting than “oh my god I’ve got to write 90,000 words!”- it’s more “Today I just need to write scene X”.

      • blondeusk says:

        I have taken a new approach with my new book too. I am not writing chapters, I am just chucking words down. I am not writing it in order, I am writing what I feel like creating. Have got 30k words in 4 weeks which is good going for me. I think I put so much pressure on my first draft.

      • Helen Treharne says:

        I did exactly the same for writing the outline for my current WIP. I just vomited words on paper in a sort of self indulgent stream of consciousness and then carved it up afterwards into some sort of sense. I’ve culled quite a bit since and now picking up the “chunks” I feel most engaged with. It’s worked for me. I’m struggling with time and just picking up odd bits seems to be working in as much as I’m getting small bits done relatively frequently. Good luck with the new project!

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