They hire him to take up gravestones
in old cemetery grounds.
Pay him by the hour,
to tease out lichen lost names,
in neat, thin rows of records
only his eyes will read,
and murmur each syllable
into the fresh split of dark soil
before the groundsman comes
with his sack of grass seed,
to no one at all.
This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round.
Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them.
If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage where you can’t see the words for the prose. Distance from your work can help, but I often find a fresh pair of eyes will pick apart of poem or story far more effectively than I ever could.
I’ve been very luck, I’ve always had friends who were interested in reading and writing so I’ve always had people to run work past. At the moment there is someone reading my poetry collection ‘All In The Blood’ for me, and someone else who has been giving feedback on my NYC submission. For both it has been less about being told what is wrong with my writing, or what is right, but about being challenged to look at my work through a different lens. More often than not this means I go back and take another shot at saying whatever it was I was trying to say.
So, my top tips for editing and redrafting.
- Try not to send out first drafts. Do a little redrafting yourself before exposing your child to the elements.
- Remember that you’re asking someone for their opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but you asked for it so be polite when they give it.
- Think about the comments your editor makes and even if you don’t go in that direction, think about why they have been made. You might find it sends you off down a different avenue of thought.
- If your story has an element that you’re not familiar with in it, try finding someone who is familiar. I don’t always believe in the ‘write what you know’ but you should at least ‘write what you’ve researched’.
Now, enough procrastinating, I have a story to redraft, a poetry collection to edit, and a novel to corral. As they say, no sleep for the writer.
It’s just turned afternoon here in the UK and instead of planning my evening for bonfire night, I’m staring at my NaNoWriMo word-count, wondering how much more I can get written before I need to leave the house. After all, I need pesky things like food and the kitchen is looking a little bare at the moment.
I’m going to keep this week’s Weekend Coffee Share short as I really do need to keep my attention on finishing the current draft of Shadow Dawn. Over the last five days I have written 10,128 words to add to my book, taking the current draft total to…
I’m currently working on chapter ten of the book and I’m really proud of how much I’ve written over the last week. Writing the synopsis for Shadow Dawn really helped with motivating me and keeping me from going off track during the last few days.
I’m not quite hitting the same daily word-counts as I was when I blasted out the last full draft of Shadow Dawn, but I’m managing at least 2,000 words a day, and yes, I’m writing each chapter over from scratch.
Reading back the stuff I’d written from about chapter five onward, it was clear that my story had taken some very weird tangents to the point where none of the characters were heading in the direction that they needed to be.
We are now on track.
I’ve cut away most of the old draft and I’m starting afresh.
In December I will have to go back and lengthen a lot of the chapters, and I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m crap at chapter endings. I really struggle to create a final paragraph that doesn’t feel too sudden or cliched.
But! That is all a December problem and right now it’s November so I need to get back to writing. Best of luck to anyone else who’s also trying to complete NaNoWriMo this month.
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