Lesson Eleven from the Gold Mine Manuscript Red Line: Pre-Telling

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please  see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

I’m not sure I completely agree with this from the angle  where it’s marked, but I’m mentioning it nonetheless.  In the Gold Mine Manuscript, the MC had something weird happen to  him.  It’s something that could possibly  change his life.  One chapter ends  (paraphrasing)  “He had to find the  truth.  He cleaned up the mess, closed  the doors, and formulated a plan.”

The publisher highlighted “formulated a plan” and called it  “Pre-Telling.”  They said this is  telling us what is happening without telling us what “did happen.”  They asked the author to look for instances  like this in the novel and eliminate them.  They wanted her to show them what happened instead.

Now, I read this as a decent chapter close.  It left me wondering what the MC was going  to do.  I think that was the effect that the author was going for.  In my mind,  it gives you a little push to turn the page.  However, my opinion doesn’t really count, does it?  They red-lined it.

Do with this what you like.  I’ve seen this in published work.  Frankly, I didn’t mind it, but somebody “in the know” did.  I suppose, like anything else, once we stop  using little writing crutches like these, and we see what we can do without  them we will realize what better writers we can be.  Which, I suppose is what looking at manuscript red-lines like  this is all about… even if we don’t necessarily agree.

In some cases, you need to decide what is best for you.  However, I would consider trying to write without something like this, and see if you can still get the effect you want without the Pre-Telling.  You probably can.  If you can’t, and you are unhappy,  then maybe you have a decision to make.  Just get ready for the red-line (or maybe not… like I’ve said.  Some publishers have let this go.)

Hope this helps!


5 responses to “Lesson Eleven from the Gold Mine Manuscript Red Line: Pre-Telling

  1. Pingback: Lesson Thirty from a Manuscript Red Line: Finale! Summing it all up | Jennifer M Eaton

  2. I think (?) I use it alot myself, but to me it is a way of building suspense and moving the story forward.

  3. This post made me think. I’ve read ‘pre-telling’ and often like it. It makes we want to read further and see what plan was formulated.I’d guess if it’s done well, or not too often, it might work. I’m going to have to check my writing and see if I do this.

    • Like I said… I’ve seen it done. I just read it last night in Harry Potter. This particular publisher red-lined it though. I guess the real lesson here is that some publishers will let things fly, while others are harsher and are looking for perfection.

  4. Yes, this is very baffling. I’ve seen this, too. I would like to think the publisher is making the author push past her own limits. I am guilty of such ‘atrocities’ and thankfully, with the push of others, I’ve managed to change my text to make it more immediate and showy. Hopefully it will pass the scrutiny by agents and publishers alike.