Just the Tip(s) – Reading and Editing Advice from a Writer Without a Clue
January 5, 2014
January 5, 2014
Two drafts and a polish. Advice I am trying to take without a fluttery heart. Because guess what? About six weeks ago I finished the first draft of a story…a novel? A something, I guess.
It took all the restraint I had not to launch myself back into editing it the moment I finished. I felt lost without my story. My characters. I still had quotes and sentences and story line buzzing around in my head that I didn’t know what to do with. Instead, I took a breath and had a drink instead to celebrate.
First draft done, the next step is a read. And I’m not sure about the right way to edit. My style is an amalgamation of advice from different writers and just going with my gut instinct. According to Stephen King and others, let it sit, and that’s what I did. I was a good girl and patiently let it marinate on a shelf. I admit I took a few peeks at it, made a few teeny tiny edits (get off my back, OKAY, STEVE?), but for the most part have showed surprisingly good restraint for a Libra.
Now, six weeks later, back from a vacation (blog to come), well rested and raring to go, I’ve picked the story back up. I’m reading through it. No editing. Just making notes on a notepad as I go. It’s difficult to pick up your piece and resist the temptation to red-ink the motherfuck out of it. But it should be done so you can soak up the full story…and then tear into the second draft of it with ferocious and worry-free abandon. Because hey, you read through it. You did your job. Now go at it.
Before I started reading I made myself five key tips compiled from random advice I’ve read. These seem to be most important for this first step of the first draft read. I posted them on the wall in my office. I glance at them often as I hold my story in my hands. They remind me to JUST READ. NO TOUCHING.
Now I’m not a pro at these yet, and I’m sure I’ll break a few of them, but so far they’ve been helping me keep on track. No one’s an expert – everyone will and should edit differently according to what floats your boat and curls your toes.
But since sharing is caring, I wanted to post these five little tips that may or may not get you hot and bothered.
– No editing
-Just notes/thoughts on a pad
-First 20 pages – do you see the premise? Is it obvious?
-Does the manuscript tell the story you wanted?
-Kill anything extraneous
-What’s the protagonist’s clear goal?
-Is every back story vital?
3-Circle “thought” sentences. FIX.
4- Be honest – with your characters and the story you want to tell.
5- Kill your darlings!
I already know the let-your-novel-sit advice works. Before, all I wanted to do was fix it up ASAP, get it done, and do something with it. I was frantic and rabid, near inconsolable with wanting it to be perfect and done STAT.
Now, after letting it sit, and having time to ponder, I’m not impatient. I want to take care with my words and my characters. I want to make it good. I want to make it tight and hard. Be proud of it and not fuck it up.
I think that’s something we can all agree on. And with enough practice, do it too.