My car is sick. Not the kind of sick where it refuses to do anything, but the kind of unpredictable sick where it tricks you into thinking it is going to work before it passes out when you really don't want it to. After an afternoon of trying to fix it (changing the spark plugs, cleaning the air filters etc), I decided to give in and book it in to be seen by a mechanic who'll do a proper diagnostic to pinpoint the problem (instead of spending the next week changing different parts on the car and getting nowhere).
But how do my car woes relate to writing? I promise I'm going somewhere. *grin*
I got to thinking how my car like a manuscript. You've been working in harmony for a while. There haven't been too many major problems. Everything on the surface might seem like it's working fine, but there are always things happening you can't see. Like the undiagnosed problem in my car, a manuscript might have a problem you can't see yet. It could be a problem with the plot. A character isn't quite right (or just doesn't work). You might not start in the right place. The pace could be off.
You try to work out the problem. You revise. You rewrite some scenes and chapters. You add scenes. You might even go on a delete button rampage. Sometimes you can see the problem. A simple fix could be all it takes to get your story running again. But sometimes, as much as you try, you might not see the problem.
You call in a mechanic (or, in writing terms, a critique partner). You need someone who can take a step back and look under the hood. Then, and only then, can you start to work on the problem that's really there. Then your manuscript (and, fingers crossed, my car) can start running again.
Are you doing revisions or just want some tips? Hang out and read our New Year's Revision Conference posts.