If you’ve ever read a poem, a short story, an article or a book or seen a play, a photograph or a painting so evocative that you thought, “This should be a movie,” then you’ll know it’s often the first step towards the creation of something new and wonderful yet familiar and comfortable. Regardless of where the idea begins and where it ends up, after that first step there are several more that will help ensure that when using the source material of others, you do so with honesty and respect.
In my book Project December and in a March blog post, I outlined what I call Project November – how to approach a rewrite after finishing the first draft of your novel. To briefly recap, the steps were:
• Accept that change is required
• Ask for beta feedback
• Walk away (AKA take a break)
• Come back at least a month later (AKA read it yourself)
• Give careful consideration to all the feedback you receive from your beta readers
• Cut, cut, cut
• Add, add, add
• Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite
I’m now doing Project November for Black Spot, which I’m planning to release later this year.
Despite the fact that it’s March, I’ve just completed another month of intensive novel writing (which you will all know by now I like to call Project October). I mentioned last year that I would put together some tips for Project November, which is what to do once you’ve finished the first draft of a novel that results from a successful Project October.
There are many writers who bemoan contemplating the blank page as the hardest part of the writing process but I think the challenge of reviewing, reshaping and rewriting can be just as difficult, especially if you are so blinded by the achievement of finishing a first draft that making changes seems almost sacrilegious.
So here are a few suggestions for turning a raw first draft into a polished gem.
When we first start writing fiction, we do it because it’s fun, because we enjoy it, because it allows us to create and exist in worlds and amongst people that we are unlikely to ever encounter in our real lives. Sometimes that includes worlds and people we would never want to meet in real life.
It’s often only when others start reading our fiction that analysis begins and labels are bandied about. Genres are so varied and specific these days that there is almost always one to suit anything that is being written. And if there isn’t, we create new ones.
Beyond genre, though, there are three categories into which everyone’s writing will fall. They are categories that when we are writing we don’t think much about. But our writing will inevitably fall into one or snugly somewhere between two. Those three categories are realism, escapism and absurdism.
Anyone doubting the usefulness of LinkedIn might be surprised to learn that since my last contract ended in February 2015, I have had seven unsolicited job offers, mostly from people I don’t know. So why then do I remain unemployed?