“Extreme Rewriting” isn’t a Sport – Yet. Ouch!

“Hurts so good”:

One Simple and Incredibly Painful Way to Fix Your Novel Draft – by Charlie Jane Anders

Congratulations! You’ve written a first draft of a science fiction or fantasy novel. You (and your heroes) have vanquished the enemy, and your story has come to a glorious end. And now, the real agony begins. Chances are your first draft is a misshapen wreck, which requires huge surgery.

The good news is, there’s one great technique to diagnose and fix the problems with your novel draft. The bad news is, it’s excruciatingly painful. But you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t a masochist in the first place.

That technique is: Try writing your whole novel over again, as a short story. From scratch, without looking at your novel draft. If possible, you can even do this a few times over, focusing on different POV characters or different themes.

This isn’t the same thing as just writing a synopsis or outline of your novel, which is something you absolutely must do as well. When you’re writing a novel synopsis or outline, you’re not trying to make it a particularly great read on its own — especially not when you’re doing it in the middle of the revision process. (Later on, when the novel is ostensibly done, you’ll write a polished synopsis to show to agents and editors, but that’s a ways off.) When you’re writing a synopsis or outline, you’re just trying to describe the main events that happen in your novel and how they (hopefully) fit together.

Read it all

This is genius. Pure and simple.