25th January 2021
If, two years ago, I had written the first draft I have recently completed there would be champagne opened to celebrate my ‘masterpiece’. I would then have gone on to embarrass myself by having the work rejected by an ever-growing number of agents and publishers, convinced they didn’t understand my ‘genius’. Undoubtedly, I would have gone further and expended time, effort, and money on self-publishing, clinging to the expectation that the discerning public would recognise the quality of my writing despite the industry failing to do so.
Fortunately, this will not happen. I had the good fortune to not only stumble upon Andrew Wille’s ‘Do It Yourself’ MA creative writing syllabus, but also have a writing buddy willing to undergo the self-study contemporaneously. Now I can recognise my ‘masterpiece’ for what it really is, a flawed first draft with some potential but requiring work to bring up to scratch.
Now begins that work. I let my ‘novel’ lay fallow for a month and have now been through the work applying some of the craft techniques learned during study.
First, I created a Story Grid spreadsheet of all the scenes in the story, identifying their purpose and which characters feature in each scene. This has thrown up several issues for me:
· Some unnecessary scenes are evident.
· A character can disappear without affecting the story.
· I need to reorder some scenes.
· I recognise the work has a couple of major structural flaws which need addressing.
· There are some ‘believability’ issues here and there, but I can see fixes for those.
· Style and characterisation seem to be mainly consistent through the work.
· I need to look closely at transitions.
In the year two of the DIYMA syllabus there is a section on Revising and Self-Editing. One of the exercises suggested is to retype the whole work from page one.
My first reaction to this was a head-in-the-hands ‘oh no!’ But looking at my work, I can see how complicated it will be to adjust and incorporate edits for all the notes I have within the current document; scrolling back and forth to make sure continuity issues are addressed, dates line up, etc. So, I have committed to ‘putting it through the typewriter again’ and begin this week.
As ever comments, critiques, and complements always welcome, either here or on social media.