Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Writing A Perfect Piece

When I sent my thank you message to those in my critique group who had given me suggestions on a new children's story, I made the comment that it would sure be nice if we could write a perfect piece on the first try. Not gonna happen, is it?

Revising and self-editing are all part of the game for a writer. How many times you do it for each piece you write will vary with the writer. Some are satisfied with 2 or 3 revisions while others will go for many more. Perfectionists, I suppose, rewrite the most.

I wonder if that writer who has redone her story a dozen times ends up with any better story than the one who does it 3 times. You can nitpick until you have nothing left to change. Even then, some writers will still not feel satisfied with the finished work. Once again, it will differ with the personality traits of the writer.

These are my own guidelines for revising and self-editing:

1.  Put the story aside for several days before you begin. You'll see it in a different lightthe next time you look at it and places that need work will pop out.

2  Decide on what major changes you want to make. Maybe you want to feature another character as the viewpoint character or perhaps you want to change the outcome of a situation. Play the 'what if?' game and see what you come up with.

3.  Then do the little things that are going to polish your story. Work on repetitive words/phrases. Replace passive verbs with active ones whenever possible. Check for typos and punctuation. Rearrange some sentences so that they are more clear in meaning.

4.  Put it away for a few days. Then read it again with an objective eye. Ask yourself what you'd say to another writer if you were the person doing the critiquing.

5.  Make any changes you feel are needed and call it finished.

I liked the poster at the top of this post. The editing process doesn't always happen in a 1, 2, 3 fashion. Lots of times, we do spend time staring at the story trying to figure out where to go with it. Keep at it and eventually you'll come up with the answer.

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