What to do after your writing partner or group marks up your draft with A’s, B’s, and C’s?
- Put it away for a few days. Come back to work on it when you’ve put some distance between you and the criticism.
- Open your word processor (word, pages, text edit…) and bring up your story. Keep your story open, and open a new blank document. Title this “storyname_cuttings.”
- Leave the A paragraphs alone. Do not be tempted to fiddle with them. They worked. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
- Cut the B (boring) paragraphs and paste them into the new “cuttings” document. Don’t worry, you can retrieve them if you need to. One of the easiest and most underused fixes for a boring part is simply to delete it. Be ruthless. Don’t worry that your story won’t make sense. This is only one step in the revision process. You can decide your story needs a particular sentence, paragraph, or scene after you’ve read your story without the boring bit.
- Add clarity to the C (confusing) paragraphs. Re-order words or sentences. Break up too-long sentences. Make sure you’re showing concrete action, in sequence. Choose a more concise word. Strip away overly-flowery language.
- Put it away. Let it rest.
- After 3 days or a week, read your story. Fix the gaps from the ruthless cutting by working in vital information and transitions, using lively language and interesting imagery. Cut adverbs and substitute power-verbs. (Instead of walk slowly, use saunter; instead of chew loudly, use smack or gobble.)
The resting is vital for most writers, creating objectivity. Try it, and see what happens.
How many times do you revise before you feel a piece is finished?