How to Murder a Draft, Resurrect A Better Story

 

 

Do you ever want to throw your work in progress away? Chuck the manuscript you’ve worked on for years?

If you’re a writer, you’ve been there and done that.

The last few months I’ve taken writing classes with an editor, Toni Lopopolo and her assistant, Lisa Angle. We’re a small group of writers who brave the weekly sessions with Toni and Lisa so we can become better writers.

I’ve learned I must swing a machete through a draft to become a better writer.

Wield your writing machete like Danny Trejo

Machete-wielding is a dirty job. You must be merciless. This will hurt, but it’s for your own good.

These tips will help you murder your draft:

  1. Pluck out backstory in the first pages.
  2. Delete the flowery prose that serves no purpose. This includes adverbs and -ing words.
  3. Hack out the ‘terrible 20‘ words that result in the passive voice.
  4. Throw away the ‘filler words.‘ They’re the excess fat.
  5. Cut out the numerous body parts “Her head swiveled,” “eyes squinted,” “eyebrows arched.”
  6. Take out stage directions disguised as physical movements.
  7. Remove events that don’t affect the goal. Either it doesn’t belong or the writer hasn’t communicated its importance.
  8. Slash the conversational dialogue.

These tips can revive your murdered or half-dead draft:

  1. Read “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers,” by Renni Browne and Dave King, before you start your revisions.
  2. The story must start on the first page.
  3. Write in scenes. A scene has a beginning, middle, and end (mini-arc). Each scene must drive the story forward. Tips on how to write a scene.
  4. Events, characters, description all must mean something. Remember Chekov’s gun?
  5. Enter a scene with the story already in motion, then leave early with an important outcome left hanging.
  6. Put a comma before ‘said,’ and a period before or after an action.
  7. Add danger and desire for drama or tension.
  8. Pump in great dialogue that’s confrontational, with opposing agendas. This drives the story forward.

Check out Toni’s website and find many more tips.

I enjoyed this presentation: The Most Important Writing Skill to Master and ‘What is Voice.”

Thanks for reading, double thanks for sharing this post. 🙂

 

 

 

 



Categories: Encouragement, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. As hard as it is, yep, the hatchet is a writer’s tool when it comes to revision. Bravo for embracing the journey, Mona. I am currently waiting to see if I made the cut for a fre mentorship event that would also lead me to a tighter, sharper manuscript. Can I ask if you are working on the story I read partially through the Amazon contest a while ago? I loved it!

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Blissful Scribbles and commented:
    Here are some incredibly helpful tips on editing, when I get to this point I will be checking this post out again and again. I hope it helps you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog and the incredibly informative post you share about reading. Because of this, I am nominating you for the Mystery Blogger Award. To accept the award please go to my blog to find the rules. Amy 🙂

    Like

  4. Very informative, good stuff….

    Liked by 1 person

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