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9 July 2010


To Cut or Not to Cut?

Writing, as we all know, is a process of sorts. It needs to follow some kind of order, which for the largest part can be decided by the individual writer. But all writers have to edit. As an apprentice writer of some years standing, I am only just beginning to understand this part of the process. 

Like many, I see my first draft as a kind of sacred script which needs gentle handling and the utmost care. Since joining Writers Abroad I have discovered, thanks to the very constructive feedback from members, that the first draft always needs a second re-write, often and third and very occasionally a fourth. I know deep in the recesses of my mind that there isn't a writer out there who can produce a perfect first draft and it is that piece which will end up on the bookshelves and finally on the readers lap. I'm not that stupid. But I suppose what I didn't grasp was the extent to which the first draft very well might change. Huge sections of text, dialogue, back story, imagery and characters may well need to be slashed and burned. My fingers hover nervously over the delete key and I break out into a hot sweat with a wildly beating heart (see what I mean) as I make the decision - 'off with their heads!' Once I've done said deed I panic that I've cut the only bit of the story which was any good. However, I do trust the expertise from my fellow writers and the thing is they don't just glibly pull the story to pieces, they tell you what bits are good, which parts made them laugh or cry, which bits they didn't understand and which bits they think should be carefully put away - somewhere else. And to top all of that, many members are great grammarians (is that the right word?) who can spot a misplaced apostrophe, or a wild adjective or even a pleonasm (I didn't know what that was until a few weeks ago) which all help to shape the story. 

So whether it's editing or rewriting, I finally understand that stories whatever length, need a bit of care, attention and sometimes a bit of a beating into shape. And do I have any evidence for my preaching this week? Well, I've just been informed that my story Smiles and Heartaches has just been short-listed for the Flash500 competition, along with a story of another member from Writers Abroad. 
So go ahead, Slash and Burn!

Also this week, I've posted a book review Louise Charles' blog on the last book of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. And having now got my editing brain into action I have been setting up a new website to track the progress of the re-writing process for my four (yes four) novels in progress... watch this space for further details.

Don't Think Just Write

1 comment:

Nina Croft said...

Great post Jo and so true.I always try to end up with more words than I need so the cutting doesn't seem quite painful.