Anyone–ANYONE–can deconstruct and rewrite a manuscript. Anyone can learn to rework a story one scene at a time. And we’re talking rewriting–NOT copy editing a manuscript to catch punctuation or grammar mistakes, or line editing to make sure prose flows beautifully. These techniques are important, but only after an author has dissected the first draft and rewoven it’s parts into the best story possible.
Today in How We Write Wednesday, we continue Jenni and my’s discussion of rewriting. I’ll do my best to cover the high points of a technique it takes me a two-day weekend workshop to teach properly. This is interactive stuff that I love to work with writes on, while they’re applying what I’m showing them to a work in progress. The result of one of these weekend retreats that I hope you’ll get after reading this post, too, is–
- No more excuses for not rewriting.
- No more hiding behind “not seeing” what needs to be changed in your story.
- No more big, scary book that’s too complicated to rework.
- You feeling in control of your creativity as you rewrite!
Once your draft is completed, the story can seem too complex to tackle, right? You feel too close to your work to be able to analyze and re-craft it. There’s just too much there, and it’s impossible to see where each change will take the story. It’s easy to find yourself rewriting in circles, never really getting anywhere. And who has that kind of time?
So, let’s talk revision technique. Not HOW to do the revisions themselves–that will be for later posts this month. Jenni and I have already shared a little of the nuts and bolts of rewriting and there’s more to come (and, frankly, fully learning how to revise a scene or a chapter or an act or an entire novel is more about trial and errror and learning from experience). But how to deconstruct what you have, so you can get to work on what needs to be done–THAT I can show you today ;o)
My goal today is to show you how to challenge each story component in your draft. Whether you think you’ve nailed it or not, whether you love what’s there as a whole or not, you need to take your draft apart and look at its pieces to be sure you’re getting the most from them individually and then as a whole.
You want to layer as much as possible into each moment in your story, right? To do that, you need to look individually at–
The pieces of your plot:
- Story Structure (inciting incident, turning points, midpoints, black moment, climax/resolution)
- Secondary Plots
- Chapter and Scene Openings and Endings
- Conflict and Motivation
The characters in in your story:
- Protagonist’s Arc
- Antagonist’s Arc
- Secondary Characters’ Arcs
- Point of View
- Conflict and Motivation
And that’s just to start. (more…)