Friday, July 10, 2015

Creative Writing 3 - Proof Reading & Revision

·        "If you're a beginner, let me urge that you take your story through at least two drafts; the one you do with the study door closed, and the one you do with it open."

·        The first draft is all about the story. Write it out quickly, before it gets stale. Writing fiction is "like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There's plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. If I write rapidly, . . . only looking back to check the names of my characters and the relevant parts of their back stories, I find that I can keep up with my original enthusiasm and at the same time outrun the self-doubt that's always waiting to settle in."

·        Don't think about theme, symbolism, or irony, and don't show it to anyone until the first draft is done! Keep it private and, "No one can ask you 'What were you trying to express with Garfield's dying words?' or 'What's the significance of the green dress?' You may not have been trying to express anything with Garfield's dying words, and Maura could be wearing green only because that's what you saw when she came into sight in your mind's eye. On the other hand, perhaps these things do mean something (or will, when you get a chance to look at the forest instead of the trees). Either way, the first draft is the wrong place to think about it."

·        "All novels are really letters aimed at one person," an ideal reader (IR). It helps to focus on your IR and wonder, what will he/she think of this part? Is there anything my IR wouldn't understand, that I need to clarify? "This is perhaps the best way of all to make sure you stick to story."

·        "It's rare that incoherence or dull storytelling can be solved by something so minor as a second draft." You can't polish a turd.

·        After your first draft is done, put it away and leave it for awhile––six weeks minimum. "If it looks like an alien relic bought at a junk-shop or yard sale where you can hardly remember stopping, you're ready." Read it, looking for underlying patterns. Find the themes and symbols that stand out, and then revise your story to fit them better. One of the jobs of revision is making any themes or symbols more clear.

·        Also, look for any plot holes that ruin the logic and consistency of the work. The most common plot holes have to do with character motivation - people acting out of character.

·        2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%. "If you can't get out ten per cent of it while retaining the basic story and flavor, you're not trying very hard." "Never keep a passage on the grounds that it's good; it should be good, if I'm being paid to do it. What I'm not being paid to do is be self-indulgent." The story is boss. "If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Cough once said, 'Murder your darlings,' and he was right." This is why it's so important to wait six weeks between drafts. It's easier to cut things out when you don't remember it all––when it feels like someone else's story instead of yours.

·        Now that you've completed your second draft, it's time to show it. Choose four or five people you respect and ask for their input - find people who will tell the truth, even if the work is bad. Some critiques will be factual, for example, Winchester .330's don't exist, only Remington made a .330. These are the easiest fixes. Subjective crits are harder to merit, so if all your friends hate one part, you should probably change it. If at least half of them like it, then it's probably good enough.

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