Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Rewriting advice

One of the e-zines I subscribe to published this article today: Your Rewrite: 3 Angles of Attack. The Writers Store forum on the whole seems mainly targeted at screenplay writers, but many of the writing principles are the same. This particular article is more screenplay focused than many of them, but the first of the named 'angles of attack' is equally relevant for fiction.

The primary point made in the article is that rewriting is essential -- and rewriting well is a skill you need to hone. To quote Hemingway: “The first draft of everything is shit.”

The article lists multiple points to consider when rewriting as part of its first target area: STORY. Some of these I have been addressing, others I should probably go back and look at. It's a good list.

Have you read it out loud? Repeatedly?
Does the story communicate what you wanted it to?
Do you start the story late enough?
Have you eliminated most, if not all, backstory from the first act?
Do you have the right main character?
Does the main character change? A lot.
Can characters can be cut or combined?
Is the hero in the crusher all the time?
Do we care about the character and her problem?
Is the bad guy the one who forces the hero to change?
Have you written wonderful minor characters? Like the roommate in NOTTING HILL?
Is “place” a character in your story?
Is your story about one simple idea, and does each scene further that ONE idea?
How many scenes can be combined?
How can you add more conflict in every scene?
Can you squeeze something more about the character from nearly every scene?
Have you made us feel what every character is feeling, in every scene?
What can you do to make each scene better, more memorable, more interesting?
Does the action build in intensity as we go along?
Does the ending have enough emotion and power?
Are the stakes high and do they go higher?
Will people who care about act breaks be able to find them?
Is the script really good or do you just hope it is?
Do other people read it and say, “Wow!”?

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with the "first draft is shit" quote - and i don't care that it came from Hemingway. So you are saying there is nothing in your first draft that makes it through to the last one? Most times the first draft just needs stream lining, crafting, refining and this doesn't always mean that the first lot of words to describe a situation should now be done away with. they can be enhanced or imrpoved surely but disposed of? think how sad they would feel...what if words stopped showing up all togethter in protest at this mistreatment? oh, gotta go, short story idea seems to have seeded itself.