Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Manuscript Makeover

This entry is part 73 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

Must we talk about another book on writing?

I love this challenge, but sometimes it does feel like I’ve made a rod for my own back, when I’m staring at yet another book it’s going to be almost impossible to review.

Look, I’ve said all I’m going to say about books on writing. You want to know what I think? Check out this review, or this one, as I discuss it in both.

Is this book any different?

The stand out feature of Manuscript Makeover is, where most books talk exclusively about the craft of writing in the first instance, very few of them deal in any significant way with the editing process.

This is stupid because writing is simple. You sit there, and you let it happen. It’s thoughtless, exciting, fantastic.

The editing is the hard bit. It’s the place we need guidance.

As it happens, and as I’ve said (oh I said I wasn’t going to do this, didn’t I?) I think the most critical editing knowledge comes from trial and error. It’s that simple.

I’ve read books on editing, this one included, I’ve read hundreds of blogs and ebooks, and I’ve tried numerous programs including Hemingway App, ProWritingAid and AutoCrit.

I’ve found lots of interesting information in these places, but my opinion remains the same – if you read enough books within your chosen genre, you’ll start to work out how they have to flow. You’ll find new ways to edit to the point you need only by writing something then forcing your way through editing.

You do not need books sitting around to tell you the few fundamental principles everyone always says such as cut out as much as possible, don’t overuse adverbs, blah, blah, blah.

Cutting out as much as possible is excellent advice, but don’t get hung up on anything. It stunts your writing.

When you sit down to edit, do it intending to turn the story into something you think is excellent. The rest will surely follow.

At first, you’ll struggle. It will frustrate you. This is natural. I spent years with no idea how to edit, but I kept going, and going and now, with my latest novel – The Black Sheep’s Shadow, I can read it through, and I am proud. I am excited.

The key is for you to get to a point where you feel like that too.

That’s all I’m going to say on the matter, but, while I’m here, I would like to mention that this is book 111 of my challenge.

While this may not sound a particularly special number, it is worth noting that means I now have 99 books to go. Finally, I am down into double figures.

That’s exciting.


Next Time

Next up we’ll be looking at a book written about one of the most famous men of all time – the creator of the iPhone, of Toy Story, of NeXT. 

It’s Steve Jobs. 

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: The InbetweenersMan vs Bookshelf: How to Think like Steve Jobs >>
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International worst selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). Recently he is taking the internet by storm with his Man vs Bookshelf Challenge where he aims to read the 210 books on his bookshelf in 210 weeks, reviewing them on his blog and Goodreads along the way. He is also publishing books on Amazon, his most recent being the family suspense novel, Poor Choices, which you can find here.

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