The Joys of an Unwritten Manuscript

Megan Norris Jones

After finishing a draft of my manuscript during Write By Midnight in February, I decided it was finally time to let the rest of the WriteOwls take a look at it. It’s a little nerve-wracking because I know it’s far from perfect, but I’ve been buried in this one for so long that I’ve lost all perspective. I need my writing friends to help me see both the merits and flaws more clearly before I push on with another draft.

But after having such a productive February with Write By Midnight, I couldn’t stop writing until they finished their critiques. So, I’ve spent March developing an outline for a new manuscript—and having a blast doing it! 

It’s been a long time since I got to feel the giddy excitement that comes with dreaming up a new world and a new magic system, of creating characters that I can fall in love with and shepherd through the trials that I will throw in their paths. And at this stage in the game, I haven’t written any scenes, so nothing can fall short of my expectations. It’s all shiny and bright in my imagination. 

I’m also pleased to discover how much I’ve learned since the last time I sat down to develop a new story. This manuscript is already in better shape at the outlining stage than my last one was in the second draft because I now have an explicit understanding of story structure and better tools for building a solid story. I already have the scenes for first and third acts on notecards (I use Scrivener’s notecard function). The middle is still hazy—but I KNOW the middle is hazy, and I’m working on fleshing it out before I jump into writing it. 

I read a lot of craft books while I was struggling through my last manuscript, and I kept wishing that I’d known the information when I’d sat down to write in the first place. So this time around, I’m working with no fewer than six books open on my desk and referring to them constantly as I decide what will make the story work best. I realize that the proof will be in the writing, and my creative brain has a habit of throwing my best laid plans out the window. But I’m not worried about that right now. Right now, I’m having fun.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Wondering what those craft books laid out on my desk are? Here you go:

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