Sunday, October 18, 2009

Writing and Editing My Way.

For the longest time I loved to write, but I had no direction. There are piles of notebooks sitting in my house, with little vignettes of stories inside. Folders on my computer filled with one to ten page pieces of stories, or notes. That was all I did. It was a hobby. Nothing more.

Then I wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month. I could do it! That one will probably never be read by anyone. That was not the point of writing it. The point was to prove to myself I could do it.

But now for the other hard part. Editing. A path I am just starting to take. I have tried other methods that have been suggested on the internet, but finally came up with my own.

Writing is like drawing.


The first draft I make is a rough draft. I compare it to the sketch an artist uses when they first come up with the idea. That sketch could be nothing more than a circle with two lines drawn through it. Showing where the eyes and bridge of the face lie. That's how I look at my rough draft. A place holder for the ideas. At this point I am not worried about chapters, headings, or even if I have all the commas in the right place.

The second draft is to flesh things out, and to make the connections more clearer. Clean up the long passages of narratives, add more of the five senses to the scenes, not just what the characters see. Like the artist, who will take that circle and place the rest of the features of the face in. This time around I am looking to expand. Not necessarily doubling my work, but filling in the gaps. I also wait at least a month (up to a year) between the time I do the rough draft and the second draft. I want the story out of my head, before I read it again. That way it is fresh to me.

The third draft. The mechanical draft. This is where I pay attention to all the little details. The i's and t's and the periods. I may have caught some of it during the second draft. But this read through is not about substance, its about style. Does what happen on page 12 really relate to what happen on page 200? If not, I have to fix it. Back to the artist. This is where they are cleaning up the stray lines. They are starting their shading. The picture is almost complete.

Final draft. Wait another month. Read it like it's a new book. See if all flows together. Now we work on getting it ready to be published. If the previous steps have to be redone, then do it. The artist at this point will take another look at his work, and start adding more depth. But when he or she steps away this time, the work is done.

And now my novel is done.

That is how I look upon writing. It has really helped me get organized and complete my stories. I hope it helps someone else too.

Thanks for stopping by.

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