Discover more from Maneus
The subtle art of really caring
Hey! When’s the last time you took a long bath?
The first week of Buildspace is officially over and I already feel like I’m running behind.
I’ve kept my focus on editing Maneus, but that has ballooned into a bigger project than I ever expected. What I thought would be a quick revisit has turned into a serious time investment.
I am essentially rewriting every line — it may be more correct to just say I’m rewriting a dusty draft into an actual book.
On the bright side, I’ve now publicly shared my idea with the world!
If you click on the image to view the tweet, you can scroll down to see a bit of what people are saying. It’s not the kind of flood that would need any help from Noah, but it’s nice to see people interested in Maneus!
In an effort to keep my eyes on editing, I thought it’d be fun to share some of what I’m noticing and learning.
When I get into the groove, my focus borders on the absurd. Fully removed from myself, I dig into the destruction of a draft.
With a lot of swearing under my breath — or more often than not over my breath — I’ve started organizing my most grievous wounds into three broad categories.
Confusing specificity with immersion
Years ago, one of the first people to look at Maneus was my dad. He told me it felt like reading a book made of stick figures.
Incomplete thoughts in a crudely worded text.
I dismissed his critique out of hand. He didn’t get it.
However, I now see what he meant. I wrote nothing but scribbles and sketches. I confused descriptions and details with specificity.
There are countless examples where I cite which characters are present while neglecting to describe the scene itself. More like a list of chores than immersive storytelling.
I now know all that really matters is making the reader feel like they’re really there.
Making sure they’re invested and care.
Emotions need to be earned
Following a similar thread, I remembered what an old friend told me when he first read my manuscript years and years ago.
The classic “show don’t tell” that I struggled to really grasp at the time. Nowhere do I feel like this hurt my story more than with the way emotions flutter and flop.
Rather than showing relationships grow and develop into something worth caring about, I simply used words to say what happened — telling the reader what they should feel.
I actually got angry at myself as I continued to run into this problem. It got so bad I even stopped to turn on caps lock and type out big and bold in the middle of the document:
The saving grace is that the core ideas are genuinely interesting. The greater intrigue of the relationships and conflicts was just hidden beneath my lackluster skills as a writer.
Going back and repairing this fundamental flaw has allowed me to give characters their proper due. While I groan at my past self, creating a real buildup of tension and ensuring a satisfying release has been a fun journey.
People can’t read my mind
I feel like the common element in all these issues was not understanding how people can’t fill in the gaps with what I leave in my head.
They can’t see the world I created, unless I describe it.
They can’t feel what I feel, unless I earn the emotion.
Everything in my head is just that — in my head.
My job as a writer is then to bring that out and let others experience it, not hide it in hopes that people can somehow magically come to feel what I feel.
In very broad terms, when I first wrote Maneus I was much more of an amateur — a first time author. I clearly lacked confidence in my own writing. I was unsure of what I wanted and that led to a draft that was little more than a non-committal sketch.
Jumping back into edits, I put my heart on the table. Good or bad, better or worse, it’s truly me this time.
It’ll be a sprint to demo day, fitting in proofreading and printing and promotion and more. But with a little luck and a lot of effort, I’ll be getting to the point where I’m ready for Maneus to be forever written in stone in less than five weeks.
Until next time.