Scenario – you just finished writing your masterpiece. Triumphant, you put it to one side for a couple of weeks and take a break. Refreshed, you pick it up again, start reading and it is the biggest pile of rubbish you have ever read.
What do you do?
One option is to build a bonfire out of all those pages of closely written text, light it up, then watch it burn it to the ground!
But wait? Maybe there is another option: editing!
First drafts of pretty much all things are … rubbish. Second drafts are generally better. Third drafts are a big improvement and … well, you can tell where I’m going here.
This is what you need to look out for in your drafting process:
- Plot – make sure something momentous happens, either to your characters or inside your characters, and be sure that it is interesting and believable.
- Characters – ensure that you can tell your characters apart, and identify with their problems. Give them something credible to do and make them do it in an interesting manner both in terms of how they act and what they say.
- Pacing – plan your pacing in advance to ensure that you don’t linger too long in boring places or rush away from the interesting parts too quickly. Be certain that you create enough compelling and significant events to carry you from one end of the story to the other.
- Language – use variety in your words, but don’t go crazy with the Thesaurus. Spend time showing how things or people are, rather than telling them. Cut down on the adverbs, adjectives and cliches.
- Metaphors – consider using plain and simple language rather than metaphors and similies. If you can’t restrain yourself then make sure that they are original and relevant to your story.
And if you can’t be bothered to do all of that – the back of the sock drawer is still better than burning all of your hard work. Maybe, someday, someone will write an app that will correct it all in one fell swoop. Now wouldn’t that be nice!