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Friday, December 16, 2016

Big Picture Revision: Part One

My Cutting Draft for my Capstone.


So, it’s a been a little over two weeks since National Novel Writing Month came to an end and I haven’t looked at my story again once.

Why?

Well, if I am to edit it and revise it, I need some time away from it. Trying to edit anything immediately after writing it won’t do any good. The story is too fresh, you will miss mistakes and errors because you will see them for what you want them to be and not for the mistakes and errors that they are. Also, time heals all wounds, and if you hated your story or parts of it, you might just delete too much and lose an amazing novel. Time will let you see your story clearly.

Personally, I won’t be starting my editing process until after the new year. I like to put some distance in between the writing and editing, if I can. But, if an idea for my novel comes into my head, I write it down in my “handy-dandy” notebook that I keep with me at all times. (I would advise anyone who writes to do this. I have notebooks upon notebook filled with names and ideas and places and random plot lines, I go back them for inspiration.)

Editing is time consuming and has a lot of steps, so this is just part one of my editing process.

This is the big picture revision.

Anyway, the first step I take when revising my story is to read it all. Rereading the story allows me to get reacquainted with it. I will also read it aloud, because that allows me to hear the mistakes and hear when dialog doesn’t sound natural. When I do come across those moments I underline them, so I can revisit them later on. (I would suggest printing the story off if you can, editing on a computer is difficult, but printing so many pages isn't always feasible.) 

After that, I do what I call my “cutting draft.” I go through my story and strikeout everything I hate or deem unnecessary. My goal is to cut at least 30-45% of it. I know that sounds like a lot, but when you think of all of the fluff that you added to reach your 50k word count, you hopefully won’t be cutting the meat of your story and only the fat. Things I normally cut are adverbs, overly wordy dialog tags, and scenes that add nothing to the plot. I get rid of characters who add nothing to the story or only seem to show up as a plot device. I look for scenes that take too long and for distracting verbiage. 

I do not edit spelling mistakes or grammar errors during this process. This is just  about the story and not its readability. 

When you are done cutting your story to pieces you should save that draft with the unwanted material still there but struck out, and then open a new document. Copy and paste the whole thing into it and then delete the crossed out items. Why keep a copy with the things you want to get rid of? Well, you just may need those ideas for a different story or you might want to reuse those things in the story but somewhere else in it.

And that brings us to the next phase of my big picture revision, which I will blog about next week. I hope you come back to read about my “deepening draft.”

Have a great weekend!