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How do you decide which manuscript to focus on?

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I am currently working on several different manuscripts - it seems that once I started writing again it opened the floodgates! I've also been reading Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul to learn more about how to write well and have done some initial editing on all of the pieces I'm working on.

Here is my question: how do you decided which manuscript to really dig into, or which one to submit to publishers or agents? I have two little kids, so my time is not my own and I want to use it well.

Do you just decide which one is your favorite? Look for comparable stories already published? Have a peer do a quick read through of a few manuscripts and help decide which to focus on?
#1 - August 26, 2020, 10:02 AM

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Hi Rebecca

The answer to that question is something you'll have to work out for yourself, but as someone with multiple projects on the go at any time, my approach is simple:

Which one do I still respond to the most after I'd read it for the 100th time? Which one makes me laugh or loud or threaten tears on every read? Which one has a character jumping off the page to demand my attention?

I've shelved a number of witty and insightful (I hope :) ) stories that I still enjoy reading, but aren't special enough to end up on a stranger's shelf. But determining that is ALWAYS subjective.
#2 - August 26, 2020, 10:50 AM

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I agree with David. Sometimes it's hard to choose which ms to spend your precious time on. For me, the one that most grabs my heart and attention.  Or the one with a deadline (for a competition, or a publisher's open submissions window).
#3 - August 26, 2020, 04:20 PM
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If I'm stuck and have a lot of potential projects, I'll do a spreadsheet with the projects along the x and y axis, then compare each two and give a point to the one I'd prefer to do first. Then I add them up and the high score wins.
#4 - August 26, 2020, 05:14 PM

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For me it's the one that has the strongest protagonist, and just as important, the strongest antagonist.

Good luck!
#5 - August 27, 2020, 06:11 AM
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If I'm stuck and have a lot of potential projects, I'll do a spreadsheet with the projects along the x and y axis, then compare each two and give a point to the one I'd prefer to do first. Then I add them up and the high score wins.

This sounds like how my husband would do it! He's an engineer, most problems can be solved in Excel. :)

Thanks for the responses, everyone. I think the easy answer I was hoping for is probably hiding somewhere next to the manual that was supposed to come with my kids...

For now, I think I'll just keep writing without worrying too much about submissions. I just found the joy in it again I don't want to ruin it by putting too much pressure on myself. But I'm glad I have some different ideas to reflect on once I want to take the next step. Thank you all!

#6 - August 27, 2020, 06:20 AM

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I would prioritize any manuscript that deals with a "hot" topic.  By "hot" topic, I would currently include any nonfiction, diversity, or LGBTQ subject matter.
#7 - August 27, 2020, 06:58 AM

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I think the easy answer I was hoping for is probably hiding somewhere next to the manual that was supposed to come with my kids.
:lol4
#8 - August 27, 2020, 07:28 AM

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This sounds like how my husband would do it! He's an engineer, most problems can be solved in Excel. :)...
 I was hoping for is probably hiding somewhere next to the manual that was supposed to come with my kids...

:lol4  I have an engineer husband too and that's so not how my brain works. I've always worked on multiple projects and the ones with hard deadlines get priority, and then the ones I feel most passionate about. Or sometimes I see a call for a particular type of story and I often have something half-baked or even finished and it's just the right timing to pull it out again. I have a file cabinet full of stories that I don't know what to do with...but I just keep on writing. About that manual for kids--perhaps we should write one, eh?
#9 - August 27, 2020, 08:19 AM
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