In my discussions over the past two weeks, I explained the importance of Editing. I stressed how you need to write the FIRST DRAFT before you worry about Editing.
The FIRST DRAFT is when you empty every thought you have about your storyline. DO NOT self-edit as you go – it doesn’t matter how ugly the document looks. Some people feel more comfortable writing out the FIRST DRAFT by hand, while others feel more confident if they use their computer. (I find that if I write the FIRST DRAFT by hand, the first round of Editing will occur when I’m transcribing the work from handwritten notes to a Word.doc.
So, now once you’ve emptied your brain and you feel like you’ve expressed all of your thoughts about the story in writing, you’re ready to begin the EDITING PROCESS.
The PROCESS is something you will develop over time, but it is always best to look at what the experts say when starting out. After reading numerous articles from famous – some very famous, and some not-so-famous, authors, I realize that everyone has their personal methods. The editing process becomes a checklist for each author to root out the errors they know are there. I’ve boiled down the different steps I saw across the board and came up with some common steps. They are:
The best place to begin is CONTINUITY. If you have basically done an idea dump onto paper, the MS needs to be put into a logical order. Your story needs to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Along the way, you introduce the Characters, the problems they face, and the Setting.
I think the best place to start when it comes to Characters, is with your PROTAGONIST or MC. This character will have the main problem that needs to be solved. Your PLOT revolves around the actions of the Protagonist. (Without the full development of the PLOT – your story will fizzle out.)
Next, it is time to determine a general idea of how your character will change during the story. How will dealing with the problems and obstacles make a difference in their lives? (IF your MC does NOT change over the course of the story – the PLOT and OBSTACLES aren’t clearly defined.)
And then, you determine the SETTING for your story. Depending on whether you are writing a short story or a novel, your plot should involve just one or a handful of scenery changes. Write the descriptions in a separate document and sprinkle the details throughout your prose.
Next week’s Blog entry for Friday will continue the discussion on Editing.