When we talk about rewriting in Writers Write, delegates often go a bit pale. They seem to think that you need to rewrite a story or novel from scratch. While certain drafts do need to start their journey again from a blank page, if you have a reasonable first draft, you can follow these 12 chronological steps to make self-editing more manageable.
- Read through. Print out your manuscript, make yourself a coffee and grab a pencil. Read it from beginning to end as a dispassionate reader. Make the odd comment in the margin if something glaring pops up, but hold back from making detailed notes. The idea is just to get an idea of the global story, the flow, and the feel of it.
- Plot line. Now it’s time to interrogate the plot and determine if there’s enough conflict in the story. Look at each scene and sequel to see if you’ve unpacked the major story question posed by the inciting incident. As Sol Stein suggests, compare your strongest scene with your weakest scene. Decide if the weaker one can be recycled or rewritten.
- Hero in the spotlight. Here we pick apart the main character. A good idea is to create a character sheet that you can create from the character wheel – write a paragraph under the headings of his psychological, physical and socio-economic make-up. Make sure that every decision or behaviour he displays in the story is consistent with these traits.
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