Cutting Up the Book

Today I can see perfectly with both eyes again! And no headache on the horizon:) So of course I am ready to dive back into my manuscript to make the changes for the Wild Rose Press editor. She wants a big cut, and she’s right about that. But it’s not as much as I thought. About 50 pages.

First I had to dig through my closet to find the box with the proper manuscript. Then I lifted the top stack out of the box. I tend to save a couple of copies and photos and other things I use during a books’ progress, but I was pretty sure this pile was the right book, since I’d only sent it out a few months ago.

Greeting me on the title page was this note: “Pages out of order are corrected in Word and thumb drive.” So I spent almost an hour getting my pages back in order because they were a mess. And even now there are two pages of some and no pages of others. I was quite tempted to just print the whole thing out again but feel guilty about the wasted paper.

Why didn’t I organize my pages at the time? Because I was anxious to move to the step–submission. And then back to my Cher novel. So I tossed the manuscript into the box and forgot about it until now.

My filing system may seem shockingly low tech, but I am a little more organized than I used to be. I once sent a draft of a novel to someone who was in a position to help me get published. Because I failed to label it correctly, I sent the wrong draft. She sent it back saying “I think this is a rough draft…there are spelling mistakes…” I was so embarrassed. So now I take care to label every new version of my manuscript in a way that will immediately allow me to find the right copy.

When the current editor sent the ms. back, I labeled it with her initials, so I’d know that these are the correction pages, where I will use the editing tools. Yes, we revise on the computer in our publishing house. Again, saving paper, if not my eyes.

I was surprised how little there actually was in the way of remarks on the Word version she sent back. Most of her notes were in the revision letter, so at least she trusts me to know what to do with her suggestions. The big one was cutting the last 50 pages. The other big thing was showing instead of telling. Yes I make the same mistake I always warn my students against. However, in critique we talked about how sometimes you really need to tell. I hope I know the difference when I read through the manuscript. She points out maybe one or two places where she suggests this, but since she said it’s a BIG concern, I assume I have more than she marked.

That’s what I do, as a writing teacher. After the first few pages of inserting commas, I just tell them, you have comma problems, you need to fix them. Then I know they’re really learning instead of just using me as their editor for rewrites. So I guess where show or tell is concerned, everyone must learn to be their own editor.


  1. Hello Cindy, Hope you’re feeling better and on your way to cutting down on sugar.
    About Show vs. Tell: A former writing teacher once said that the key to showing and telling lies in the space between where each path works together to support what the reader needs to embrace the writer’s intent. You can’t really have one without the other. “The trick is not to show and not tell. The trick is to show and tell, and to do each in the places where each is strongest.” (Kyle Minor)
    I have read pieces that were all show, devoid of tell, and were tedious academic reading–showing solely for the sake of showing; a cheap trick as far as I’m concerned. The writer wrote in painful sensory detail about making toast in his toaster, followed by how every tiny toasted crumb met his wet mouth.


  2. Hi Cindy!
    You gave up writing. Your eye got better. Now you see what I mean. You gave up for your own good. I’ve done that sometimes too, even it has not been any easy task to do.


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