No matter what I want to call it (Revision, Slash-n-Burn, Rewrites, Dialogue Spice-Ups, Killing My Darlings), editing my first draft means bringing out the Big Gun.
Specifically, my binder full of strategies.
I subscribe to various writing magazines such as Writers’ Digest, Poets & Writers and The Writer. Over the course many years, I ripped out articles I thought might come in handy, packing them away in my strategy binder for that special, Some Day far, far away in the future.
And thus, Some Day has finally arrived.
Right now, I’m working my way through gems such as Secrets of Creating And Sustaining Suspense, Understanding the Minor Character Role, Spin Subplots like a Master Weaver, The First 50 Pages, The Last 50 Pages, How NOT to Write a Novel, and so forth.
I’m making notes, jotting down questions, re-thinking the plot spin.
For example, The Protagonist’s algorithm, an oddly left-brain termed process, details a typical book outline. (Non-writers, just tell me you haven’t seen this in your favorite books!)
- The main character finds herself in a comfort zone (ordinary life).
- She wants something (to satisfy a desire or to solve a problem).
- She enters into an unfamiliar situation (a call to adventure).
- She must adapt to it (and overcome resistance, objections).
- She gets what she wants (a mentor appears to guide them and provide the key to solve their problems or satisfy their desires) but has to pay a price for it (the call to action).
- She returns to her familiar situation (she applies the solution you provide) having changed for the better.
Other helpful hints focus on spicing up dialogue, aka, DO NOT BORE THE READER!
- Dialogue is not conversation; it’s conversation’s greatest hits. (Read: make it snappy, fun, witty, quick).
- Dialogue can feature arguments, wheedling, whining, refusals and head games. (Read: make good use of your teenager).
- Tense dialogue contains lots of short sentences, fragments and white space. (Read: Feel the need for speed).
- Exchange discussions for confrontations, arguments, teasing and misunderstandings. (Read: See number 2).
This is good stuff.
No, sorry, that’s not quite true. Actually, it’s humbling stuff. It’s the Oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-logical-how-could-I-not-have-done-this, stuff. It’s the I-feel-like-such-a-rube-and-my-draft-is-a-POS, stuff.
So correction. It’s good stuff if you want your writer’s ego rudely smacked back to earth. Did I also mention the stuff’s also really good for spotlighting glaring weaknesses in a once rose-colored first draft?
So after allowing my ego to pout for a bit, I shoved it back into the closet and am once again reading, jotting notes, questioning, and re-thinking.
Worth it? Yeah, every bit. I’m already seeing how my novel is morphing into something better.