Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Which I Uncover My Manuscript's Secret Plot To Kill Me

It was a dark and stormy night. The animals were tucked into bed, my husband snored lightly on the couch, and the wind outside beat against the window frames with mighty fists. It was just my manuscript and I now, face to face at the kitchen table, two boxers with gloves raised as the overhead lights flickered.

First draft complete before midnight, I felt I had won. "Finished!" I cried to the heavens, waving my arms in a gesture of victorious delight. From the couch rose a grumble, "People are trying to sleep here!" And so I shout-whispered the words every writer longs to utter, "THE END."

Oh, how naive I had been.

Weeks passed.

The manuscript and I did not speak. We did not even look at each other, for I had won, you see, and my manuscript should be sulking in the dish water of defeat. Or so I thought.

Alas, one fateful night, I dusted off the manuscript and peered inside. The wind was quiet tonight. The lights did not flicker but watched in silence as I read over the words written weeks ago, the words I had been proud to squeeze out like honey. It was then that I realized--in one sickening flash--how much danger I was in.

For this was the night I uncovered my manuscript's secret plot to kill me.

His weapons of choice were nearly invisible but as I read the words, the pit in my stomach growing deeper as the minutes wore on, I knew what he was trying to do. Oh, what a trickster he be, making me believe I had a hint of a publishable story. That I could write. He wanted me to hope. So that he could crush my dreams with one solid punch, the most evil of villainous tools.

Below lies a list of a few of my manuscript's powerful weapons. Be warned. Your manuscript may be plotting to use them as well...when you least expect it:

1) Sleep deprivation. He begins simple. He slithers into my head as I lay down to sleep, often jerking me back into consciousness with a new idea, a new character, something that I feel I MUST WRITE DOWN RIGHT NOW. I get up and stumble through the dark for a pen...

Which leads to his next weapon of choice...

2) Disorientation. As the manuscript consumes my thoughts, I am unable to function properly as a human being. I spill drinks daily. I run into walls. I trip. I fall. I can't remember where I put my car keys. I can't let him get the best of me. I need to whip him into submission...

More editing ensues...and then he hits me with...

3) Adverbs. Like landmines, they are scattered throughout the pages, ready to explode, to weigh down the narrative, to reveal my amateur writer status. They grip my ankle like a bloody bear trap...and yet...I push through...I shave them away...clean it I have alluded him once more...until...

4) Cliches. Like poison, my manuscript pours them down my throat...they slip into everything I write...including blog posts...I spit them out, wipe them away, take a breath...and come face to face with...

5) Flat characters. The horror. Like something out of a zombie flick, paper dolls are walking and talking all over my story. They are limp and lifeless, nothing going on behind their eyes. I must give them CPR...give them the gift of their lives...

But then I fall into...

6) Plot holes. I am lost in them for days, weeks, months. I crave water. My hair is matted. But I dig my way out and fill by finger nails caked with dirt...until...

Light. Another edit is complete. I lived.

I LIVED! My weapons? Time. Perseverance. Gummy Bears.

My manuscript tried to kill me.

But I live to see another edit.


  1. This is great, I'm right there with you!

    My secret weapons include twizzlers, though I might give gummy bears a try.

  2. Lol, this is a great post! :) My weapons include coffee and candles...

  3. Damn the plot holes!!! Those are the can your mc's great aunt have reared her mother when you killed her in the second chapter??

    So glad you survived to fight another day!lol

  4. Awesome post, Lisa! I hope things are going well.

  5. This comment is brought to you via smoke signals from a plot hole.

    Congratulations! This post may be what I need--as I fend off the fiendish all-consuming terror and frustration that stems from my editing sessions--

  6. I loved this post. Especially your weapons that you fought back with. Maybe I should try the gummy bears, huh?