Thursday, October 22, 2015
Rewriting: 5 Ways to Make it Work (Claire Youmans)
1 Give it a rest. Take a break after you finish your draft and also between major rewrites. Give it a week. Do something else. Laundry, maybe? An article or a book review? This is to give you a fresh perspective on the work. This is important. You need those fresh eyes to accomplish an effective rewrite. Be sure to set a date when you will return to the work and keep to it.
2. Set your goals. While the manuscript is resting, decide what you want to accomplish next. This will vary from draft to draft and project to project. It depends on what you put on your list to go back to while racing through that first draft, or what you think you might have missed in writing the second. This is the time to set a deadline for completion of the rewrite, too. It shouldn’t take as long as the first draft, but it’s not a one-day project. I find I will go through the manuscript several times during a rewrite. Sometimes I will nuke the whole thing and start over, if, for example, it’s in third person and should be in first. Setting goals allows you to focus on specific areas of writing. Narration and exposition, for example. Too much or not enough? Dialogue? More? Or is too much of it irrelevant or inconsequential? Does every scene, every sentence, every word move the story forward?
3. Clarify your dramatic arcs. Every book tells an overall story. Every character has an individual story that plays out within that overall story. Make sure you know what your overall story is. Make sure you know your individual character’s stories. They weave together to make your book. If you know that J.D., your protagonist, is going to decide that Love Is The Answer, make sure you show (not tell) where J.D. starts and why, what happens and how it affects J.D., and how J.D. changes as a result of the experiences in the book. You must build foundations. You must build upon them. If you forget your dramatic arcs, you’ll wander away from the story you want to tell.
4. Read as a reader. For your first read, just read. Read the whole book through. Take notes if you have to, fix typos if you must, but basically, you want to come as close as you can to the reader’s experience. See what glitches. See what’s uneven. Look for plot holes. Note these things, but don’t fix them. This is an overall view. You may find the whole plot or an entire character’s arc changes. It’s OK. As long as you know what needs to be fixed.
5. Write as a writer. When you go back to make your corrections and adjustments, always think about the effect on the reader, what the reader knows or doesn’t, how you want the reader to react. This is what story-telling is about. The purpose of a story is to have an effect on the reader. Be sure you are clear on the effect you want to generate, and use your craft an art as a writer to make it happen. Then go back to reader mode and read again.
Repeat as needed until you think you are done. When the manuscript is as good as you can get it, it’s ready to meet beta-readers, if you use them, or maybe your editor. When you get their feedback, the process starts again.
Besides fall chores, I’ve been writing poetry, and also reviewed a marvelous book called Maze of Blood, by Marly Youmans. You can see my poetry and the review at http://claireyoumansauthor.blogspot.com. The review is also up on Amazon, Facebook and Goodreads. This book is a great read for writers. Check it out.
Now, hello, Book Three. I’m back.
Also check out Claire's blog and FB page and available books here:
Facebook: The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy
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