After you’ve spent months and even years working on a manuscript, it can be hard to see the trees for the forest or the forest for the trees, to use a woodsy, Pacific Northwest kind of saying.
That’s when I go back to a practice I learned from one of my MFA writing advisors. In one of our group meetings, we all cut up pages of our manuscript into strips and rearranged the paragraphs and sentences to see if our stories flowed better.
Genius artist Michelangelo once said about his work: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
I’m currently working on another round of memoir revisions. No matter how long it’s been since I’ve worked on it, I always feel too close to it to be as objective as I’d like. Something about physically cutting strips of sentences and paragraphs and moving them around gives me a new perspective. It also feels different from just reading the printed pages and making notes, although that’s part of revision strategy. Read my last blog post, Critique your manuscript with this checklist, to learn more.
Here’s one way to go about cutting up your manuscript:
1. Save your manuscript as a separate document. This is so that you can revert back or can refer back to the original to compare how it all flows. Read more