August 11, 2011

My Manuscript Wants to Eat My Brains

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I had a wild love affair with my manuscript. I spent hours working on it every day, enthralled with its concept and infatuated with the characters. As I wrote, I couldn't help but think, "This is the best book I have ever written! This is the one!"

*Snuggles with book*

But then, as it often happens, the love started to fade. It started when I tackled a massive rewrite of said manuscript, switching the POV from first person present to third person past. Both the book and I were exhausted. We fought. We made-up. We fought again. The book tried to eat my brains.

Ah love.

Perhaps you too know of this feeling? When your beloved book turns into a zombie that plagues you at every turn? That's the way I feel right now. I have given birth to a zombie novel! A novel that eats at my brain! It wants to devour my creative process and digest my prose!

It wants to killlllllll meeeeeeeeee!

Okay, okay, let's tone down the melodrama, Caroline. But eep! I really do feel that my book has turned into a beast that I don't quite know how to tame. And yet, I still love it. I still want to snuggle with it...sometimes. It's kind of like a cute zombie. Like this:

See? My book is still lovable! Definitely very hug-able. But it still kind of wants to eat my brains. The main issues eating away at me right now: 

1. A lot of successful YA novels focus heavily on the romance. Mine doesn't. Is that bad? Will editors be turned off?
2. Is the genre (YA alternate history with fantasy elements) too "out there"?
3. Will this revision never end? 
4. Will I die of consumption before I finish this book? 
5. Is this novel any good? Yes? No? Maybe? A little bit hazy? Ask again later? 
6. I think my beta readers will tell me to re-write the entire middle of the novel. I have serious doubts about it.
7. In this rewrite, I have made my protagonist too generic? Have I lost her voice? 
8. Should I explore a career in penguin ranching? I hear it's the next big thing. 

So yeah. My brain = a little zombified. But that's okay! All part of the process, right?

"RIGHT!" says the zombie manuscript. 


  1. OKAY. I am going to tackle your concerns in order, as someone who currently also has their occipital lobe being munched on by a ravenous zombie manuscript.

    1. I hope not, because (as you know) mine doesn't either. Romance tends to bore me, so I've largely left it out of my story. I think this means I would like yours.

    2. I've been seeing a huge increase in this genre (starting with you and Jess, continuing to Natalie Whipple's recently-sold TRANSPARENT), so I'm going to go with "actually, this is the next big thing".

    3. Nope. Sorry.

    4. Only if you shoot too much game to successfully carry back to your wagon.

    5. It's amazing.

    6. Nah, you're fine.

    7. Nope! She's still awesome.

    8. I hear there's millions to be made in penguins, so if you do... cut me in on some of the business, okay?

    There! That wasn't so bad now, was it?

  2. Hahaha. I was thinking of making an Oregon Trail joke re: #4 too. Rick is bril, as usual.

    Also, I am strongly in favor of alternate-history fantasy.

    Also, I highly doubt it sucks. But I bet some beta readers will be able to help you get more perspective!

  3. Um, Rick is brilliant. And your zombie MS is adorable, even if it is trying to eat your brain.

    Re: #5 -- Oh the vortex of self-doubt. I'm sure your story is great. As you refine and perfect things, revisions always have a way of making you throw up your hands and shout "What am I doing. This is a mess. My story sucks." Don't listen to Self-Doubting Caroline. Keep on, keeping on, girl!

    Re: #6 -- I have found that when I think my CP is going to have issues with a certain section, she usually does. BUT sometimes you just have to finish the first round and send it on its way or you'll end up editing forever. So if you know you have a weak section, maybe specifically ask your betas to focus on that area when they read. And then tweak that NEXT pass. Baby steps for the win!

    You can do it! Go, go, go! I'll keep my fingers crossed that zombie MS doesn't eat you as you revise it. I hear they don't like to be cured ;)

  4. My first ms was an alternate history with fantasy elements, 3rd person past. So yeah, now I really want to check out your WIP, Caroline. Sounds like something I'd totally dig...

  5. Okay, firstly, would I EVER read that book -- alternative history with fantasy elements? Yes please! All my favourite things! (Fantasy reading history major ahoy!)

    Secondly, I am putting together a penguin ranching syndicate for despairing authors, I will be in touch presently. I think you'll find there's a lot to like.