Writing Check-Up Diagnosis: Butcheritis


May 6, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue

cat scan

Source: cataddictsanony-mouse

Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds posed this question today: So, How’s the Writing Going, Cats and Kittens?

The Good News:

Well, doc, it’s up and down. I sent the MS out to some beta reading specialists to get some second opinions a few weeks ago and have received most of the results. The very, very good news is that the specialists all concur on one diagnosis: Murphy’s First Law needs a little sister.

Doc, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. My baby thrilled the specialists enough that they want me to make another one. Just…awesome! That was the plan anyway, right?

The Bad News:

Of course, the specialists also had some concerns about MFL’s current development. It’s obvious that it’s still too early to cut the cord and send my baby out into the big, bad world yet.

The problem is that this revision phase feels much less natural than the original drafting. At the risk of pushing the baby analogy to far, I feel like MFL is stuck in a preemie ward hooked up to machines and being mechanically pushed to get better and grow stronger rather than safe in the rich womb of my mind being directly fed the full force of my creativity.

So, like any modern mother, I took my concerns to the interwebs for resources to deal with this problem. I found a post from Writing Doc Extraordinaire, Kristen Lamb, that I think covers my worries fairly well: Editing: Are You Butchering Your Creativity?

Diagnosis Butcheritis:

Yeah, Doc, I think I’ve got Butcheritis. The beta reading specialists really did help me nail down what about MFL still needs improvement. I’ve mapped out a surgical revision plan and thought I knew exactly what I needed to do to prepare my baby for prime time. But with every surgery, my baby seems less and less familiar to me.

Source: 9gag.com

OK, shifting the analogy a bit now. You know how you can tell when someone’s had too much plastic surgery? When you see a face with eyebrows lifted so high the person looks constantly surprised? Or so much Botox that their face doesn’t barely moves to show emotion? Or worse, they just don’t look real anymore?

Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about while doing my revisions. I think I know my plot and characters too well at this point to revise effectively. I don’t have the right perspective to see how surgically altering the nose affects the overall aesthetic of the face.


So, I think I am going to have to shove MFL into an incubation chamber for a few weeks until I can get some perspective on it. I’ve got a one-off book that’s set in the same world as MFL that the Muse has been pestering me to work on. Maybe I’ll work on that for a while.

Anyone else out there have a better cure for Butcheritis?



15 thoughts on “Writing Check-Up Diagnosis: Butcheritis

  1. The perspective idea is probably the best tactic. Coming back fresh can show that it’s in a better spot than you realized or help you find ways to fix it without making it unrecognizable. I know with my first book, I butcherized it until I hated it and had to spend over a year rebuilding it. Best to step away before you make Frankenstein’s monster instead of the Bionic Man/Woman.

  2. I think your plastic surgery analogy is spot on. Step away from the cutting instruments and let the patient heal a bit. Put the manuscript aside for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. I bet you will recognize your baby then.

    • Yes’m. The husband has confiscated all sharp, pointy objects to force me to behave myself.

      Hmm, maybe this is a good opportunity to play around with Scrivener. I could load the few chaps of that new book I mentioned into it…

  3. Laura Brown says:

    Butcheritis, I’m teetering on the edge of this, playing a fun game of Russian roulette. I feel your pain. I’m focusing on the problem areas and doing my best to ignore the rest. And I’m having some beta readers that have been with me from earlier stages step back in, willing to read the next round through and tell me if I’ve gone too far. I suspect I’ve already butchered too much so I’m slowly adding back in. Kinda like reverse liposuction, trying to find the good fats in the midst of the bad fats!

  4. JP McLean says:

    You’ve got the right idea. Step back. Take a breath. Work on something else. When you dig back in, it’ll be from a fresh vantage point. You’ll still end up cutting stuff you love, but if you’re like me, that cut stuff gets filed away and might just make it into a brand new piece. Good luck.

    • Good point. There’s probably some baby fat in MFL that I can skim off and save for later books in the series. You know backstory and such that doesn’t add much to the plot of the current book. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. I think your cure is spot on, we all need some time on occasion to take a step back and let our writing stand on its own two feet, then revise with a fresh perspective.

    A couple of blog awards floated my way, and I’m passing them along to You, too.
    Hope you have fun with them 🙂 http://estrella05azul.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/a-couple-of-blog-awards-floated-my-way/

  6. cptam1947 says:

    I would like to offer some advice, but alas I have nothing. I am living off the recycle money I receive from selling my rejection slips. Keep it up Kira, I am in your corner .

  7. L. Palmer says:

    I like to use the analogy of sculpting clay. The first draft is just lumping it together, and then the subsequent drafts are about smoothing it out and defining the shape, carving it into something awesome bit by bit.

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