This week, I thought I’d share some tips on editing your own work. Now I know what you’re thinking because, even as I type this, I’m thinking it too – who am I, an unknown newbie, to be dishing out any advice? I worried about that for a minute and then thought ‘Screw that, I learn loads from you guys’. I’ve had some great advice, been inspired by, and marvelled at the lessons I’ve learned from my fellow MA buddies, so here goes……
1) Leave it a week after drafting, and then go back.
I find it quite hard to be objective about my own work, especially when I’m sat there looking at 90 pages of hard drafting. The idea of taking a knife to it and start slashing away the words I’ve just written just doesn’t sit well with me.
I got to the end of my 90 pages and decided to put it in a drawer for a week, resisting the temptation to try and improve it until I had enough time to clear some head space. After even that short a time, when I picked it up and re-read it, I felt a bit removed from it, as though I wasn’t reading my own work. This freed my mind enough to be ruthless and helped me to accept the many things that are, frankly, totally crap. In fact, more of it is bad than good but that’s okay, because I can now see it well enough to change it.
2) Read it aloud to someone else.
This scared the bejeezus out of me (I think you all know that feeling… the fear of presenting what you’ve written to someone only for them to say it’s awful) but I did it any way. I selected my victim.. er, I mean, ‘listener’ (he had no choice really, it was my brother), and read through each 30 minute episode. I stopped between episodes for his feedback, and boy did he have some!
During episode 1, he was visibly bored. So much so, that when I was about to start episode 2, I could almost feel his dread.
During episode 2, he smiled a little in amusement (thank **** for that because it’s a comedy…).
During episode 3, he laughed a lot in some places, and was totally silent and bored in others.
He hit me with some criticism and it was bloody harsh. The words ‘boring’, ‘crap’, ‘pointless’, ‘confusing’ and ‘tedious’ were thrown around.. and more than once.
I needed to hear it. He was right. I slept on it, read it again, and agreed with every point he made. He also had some suggestions on what he would prefer to see rather than some of the scenes I’d written, and also questioned plot holes I hadn’t even noticed.
Be brave, pick someone you know will be brutally honest, and get that reading out of the way so you can really do justice to what you’re writing. Your work deserves it!
3) Go back to the themes you wanted to explore in the first place
I totally lost sight of the reasons I wanted to tell the story, and even the story I want to tell to a degree. The former two points covered helped me to reconnect with the themes I want to explore, and the things I really care about. Instead of dreading the enormous task of redrafting (and I don’t mean tinkering, I mean re-writing the whole thing with the first draft as a guide), I’m now really hyped up and excited to start.
This might be totally useless rambling to you guys, I don’t know, but thought I’d throw it out there as these few points have done me and my project the world of good. Hope something in this is helpful to someone!
Hope you guys are all well and that you’re getting on nicely with your various projects, miss you! xxxx