Make Ready Your Red Pens

Red Pen

Citizen in the Wilds is swiftly reaching its conclusion. The word count you see to your right doesn’t reflect the several hand-written pages I’ve yet to transcribe. I have one crucial scene to finish, an epilogue to craft and another scene to pen in order to sew this puppy up. But the bottom line is, I want to get a jump-start on the next step.

That step is giving the manuscript a blindfold and a cigarette, standing it in front of a pock-marked brick wall, and handing you each a rifle.

Yes, you. I need some assistance here, folks, as I don’t trust myself entirely to catch my horrid but insidious misspellings, repair any split infinitives and hunt down my darlings. I want to make sure my narrative makes sense, my characters have depth, my themes carry meaning and the whole thing is about something. Sure, I care about this thing, but I don’t feel it’s right to expect anybody else to care unless they get a chance to look it over. Make sense?

Now, this could just be my paper-thin veneer of confidence slipping to show just how insecure I am, especially when it comes to my writing. So be it. I try to be honest, and I’d be lying if I said I have a masterpiece on my hands. I think some things work smoothly and others may be a bit clunky. In the process of getting chapters ready for posting, I’ll definitely revise a bit myself, checking word choice and possibly making some cuts. But I still might miss something. The possibility is there that something I think as fine or just ignore entirely could be a deal-breaker for an agent. And that frightens me.

So I’d like to get other eyes and fingers on the thing. I’ve been debating the best way to do it without printing out multiple copies and killing the planet. Google Wave is still being super beta and occasionally vomiting horribly. Google Docs is more stable, but not everybody will want to go about it that way. And they might be uncomfortable with other people seeing their comments. Scrivener? Sorry, don’t own a Mac. Rob Oaks is working on a Linux-based software solution quite similar to it, called LyX-Outline, and I plan on trying that out. Seeing if I can get people to collaborate that way. Let some folks have at the manuscript, kick the tires, jam the gearshift, see if the damn thing runs.

Anybody out there want to get in on this? Get a sneak peek at the novel before it hits the streets, maybe play a role in bringing it to life? Also, any suggestions for collaborative revision, from other software I haven’t found to reasons why it’s a bad idea, are more than welcome.

4 Comments

  1. *perks up*

    I’ve been waiting to hear these words for months now. You know I’m down. GoogleDocs is fine by me, though I’ve not experimented with leaving comments and such on a shared document. Might have to work out a few kinks before I really get rolling on input and feedback. As long as you’re cool with that, I’m at your beck and call, bro.

    Well, except next week. Next week, I’m in Florida. Sand and surf are not so great for laptops. šŸ˜€

  2. Oh yeah, count me in. I can’t wait to start ripping this thing to shreds! Oh, I mean… contributing courteous constructive criticism. Right.

    Now where’s my red sharpie?

  3. Can’t wait to see it – is it the finished product or a draft? I’m new here.

  4. It’s a draft. It’s almost done. When that counter on the right, currently at 95.80%, hits 100 or more, I’ll find a way to get everybody interested to help me out.

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