by Peggy Bechko
Wanna Know A Secret?
Every writer writes something bad, something downright terrible, sometime. In fact, most writers’ first drafts are really bad.
Yep, there it is out there for the world to see. It’s been a jealously guarded secret for some time. Don’t know if the writers ourselves have perpetuated the myth or those who hold writers in high esteem, but somewhere along the line writing became almost a mystical thing where folks believed great ideas, fantastic plots and amazing insights were delivered to chosen writers by a muse from heaven, dripping with heavenly dew. Not.
There’s one heckuva lot of writing, revising, rewriting, reading and rewriting again that goes into an excellent work.
Now you might be the rare duck that gets it from almost the first draft. Wow, great for you! For the rest of the writers, there’s that revision thing.
So, how to revise in such a way as to encourage your very best writing? Well, I can give one tip and it’ll be up to you to sort out if it might benefit you.
First step awaaaaay from the writing. Seriously. No doubt you feel pretty darn elated at finishing that darn thing and are in a hurry to let other people see it, to hear the praises they sing. Hmm.
Well, YOU wrote it, so you’re just too wrapped up in it right then to see clearly. You’re emotionally invested. You did all that work. You’re simply not going to be objective about anything about it. So my advice is to tuck it into a folder and don’t look at it for several days, a week, maybe a bit longer if you don’t have a deadline and you can stand it.
Oh, heck, you can email it to a friend or two if you absolutely have to have some input, but that’s it. And if they’re truthful they might not have great things to say, in fact they could be pretty critical.
Okay, so then, when you look at your script or manuscript again, watch out for clichés or plot holes you can drive a truck through and my guess is you won’t have to look too hard. With a little distance these things become a whole lot clearer.
Oh, and bear in mind when reading, does a scene push the plot forward or is it just ‘filler’? Are we learning about the characters and what drives them and how their interiors are developing? They kinda better or your reader, whether editor or producer isn’t going to be happy. A great writer is always prepared to cut what he or she believes to be their best writing. Really. You may have created some fantastic phrases, paragraphs or scenes, but if they’re there for their own sake and not to add to characters or drive the story they need to be cut.
Go ahead, save some of that work. Cut and paste it into a special folder with the intent you may be able to make it work in another story at another time. Yep, if it makes you feel better, then do that. But my guess is that will be a folder you never look at except when you’re pasting in more phrases or scenes that you couldn’t keep in a script or novel. Still, it’s a comfort and I’ll admit it can be fun to look back on what you thought was some of your best writing you were forced to mercilessly cut to make an even better book or script, and see if you still feel the same way.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving in the US and now plunging into the holidays. Have a great week.
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. Grab your copy of Book 2 now! And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page