Monday, June 24, 2013

Transforming Your First Draft

Getting a story down on paper makes my heart sing. Alas, editing is equivalent to cleaning the basement. So, how do I wade through the dirty work? Here are the steps I took with my work in progress, The Scent of Fear:

1)  I read each chapter, correcting any spelling/grammar/punctuation issues. While these issues don't normally give me a problem, I've been known to reverse letters in dyslexic fashion. This occurs if I'm: A) tired or B) the creative side is flowing so fast that my brain gets confused.

2)  Tripping over a sentence while I'm reading alerts me to a trouble spot. I'll go back and read it out loud within the context of several other paragraphs. This may require substituting a word or re-writing an entire section.

3)  One problem I've identified is more of a memory thing. Have you ever forgotten the name or physical characteristic of a minor character and had to hunt it down? What a waste of time and effort! When I work on Book 3, Lost and Found, I'm going to start a spreadsheet with these pesky, but important, details.

4)  Like the old dresser I thought I'd refinish and use someday, extraneous phrases and scenes are difficult to cut. One of the rules of clutter control: If I haven't used it in a year throw it out, sell it, or give it away. If words don't pull their weight in the story, out they go.

5)  I re-read the chapter after I've made changes. Has it improved or did I make an even bigger mess? On occasion, I've had to retrieve some items from the trash.

Writers:  How do you transform your basement first draft into a livable, cozy book?
Readers: What are some of the techniques you use to control clutter?

Photo Credit: JR3


Jessica Nelson said...

I like editing a lot. I do much the same as you.
As for clutter, I don't like it (except I guess my writing area is a little messy, lol)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I much prefer writing the first draft to editing. There's something exciting about getting the story on paper.

My desk is a disaster area. I've done a post on that subject for another day. :)


Loree Huebner said...

I agree with #2 - tripping over a sentence...

I read out loud to hear the flow, and to look for mistakes or trouble spots. Reading out loud helps me find silly typos too.

Great post.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I go through each chapter time after time, looking for grammar errors, cadence, wordiness, repeated words, etc. Then I send it to beta readers and revise. Then I send it to a professional editor whom I pay, and I revise again.

Like Jessica, I enjoy the process at first. After the twentieth run through, though, I am sick of it and can't even judge if it's lousy or wonderful!

Terri Tiffany said...

I think I do all of those!!lol. Love that part.

Melanie N. Brasher said...

Ah, I like these tips, Susan! I'm going to tuck them away in my mind for my editing days. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Loree - Great to see you! I'm always amazed at how many mistakes I find when I read through the manuscript out loud.

Hi Jen - I completely understand! By the time I finish editing, I'm so ready to move on to the next project.

Hi Terri - Editing is not my favorite thing. I'd rather write a first draft any day.

Hi Melanie - I'm glad they gave you some ideas.

Susan :)

Nancy said...

I like the idea of writing down all of the characters attributes so you don't forget them. That should help a lot.

I throw out things on a regular basis. This cleaning cycle, I only had one box to donate. That is either because I'm so good at tossing regularly or because I haven't read Don Aslett's clutter books recently.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Great tips, Susan. I second each and every one of them ;)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy - If I'd kept a spreadsheet on The Moses Conspiracy, it would have saved me a lot of time. :)

Hi Ruth - Great to see you! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Susan :)