WRITING IS REWRITING! – SECOND DRAFT RETREAT :)

View from Springbrook retreat

Every writer knows the first draft is only a small part of the work involved in bringing a story to publishable standard. As Ernest Hemingway once famously said, “All first drafts are crap!” (I may be paraphrasing a little :)).

So how do we take a crappy first draft to something publishers are going to fight over? Rewriting! Or if we’re lucky just redrafting – though let’s face it if you’re a pantster like I was, you may have to write whole new sections. Twice I’ve cut back first drafts of 100 000+ words to 30 000 then rewrote the rest!

Ernest Hemingway – redrafting?

How do you self-edit?

The first step of any rewrite is the structural edit.

This looks at how the main elements of our story are working: characters, setting, voice, genre-expectations and plot. Mainly plot! 

The best place to start is with a scene list – not just chapter headings but a list of every scene within every chapter. Include which characters are involved, where it’s set, what’s happening (clue – if nothing’s happening – cut now!) and the main focus of the scene, plus whether the scene is moving us towards Hope or Fear. Go through the whole manuscript and you’ll come up with a list of potentially hundreds of scenes.

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Once you have this list it’s much easier to see any repetition, or worst of all, completely unnecessary scenes that are neither developing or illustrating character or moving the plot forward. This is when we press DELETE. Or, for chickens like me, this is when we cut these scenes and paste them into another document called “Good bits I may use later.” I have a few of these documents now for various projects and mostly they remain unused, but occasionally I’ll go back in and pull out a section that has become relevant again.

Your scene list will show you where your story starts to sink in the middle or if a character who was pivotal in the first half fades away in the second. You’ll be able to tell if a character is suddenly acting completely differently to who they were earlier, of if they have taken up too much page space – this often happens when we just go with the flow and let bossy or forceful characters have their way. 

Oh yes, those bossy characters may kick up a stink.

A scene list makes it easier to find any plot holes or if you’re building enough suspense or just having characters repeat themselves over and over without growth or change.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve to help you tackle the dreaded, but actually fun, second draft?

Have you got a project nearing the stage when it needs a proper evaluation and an objective rethink?

Writers hard at work on their redrafts at the last Second Draft retreat!

If so, come along and join us at Springbrook in the rainforest covered mountains behind the Gold Coast in Queensland for a cosy winter SECOND DRAFT RETREAT – AUGUST 12 – 14.

Come and join the fun!

This special retreat, for women and non-binary writers with a project needing attention, has workshops to help you tackle the second draft, focusing on finding the heart of your story, distilling the themes, the structural edit, and plenty of tips to help with line editing and pitch documents too.

All in a stunning location with cosy single rooms with desks, beauty and peace, like-minded folk to share your story with in feedback groups, fantastic food and lots of fun. 

For only $440 if you book before June 30 2022. See more information about the retreat and other retreats coming up HERE.

Or drop me a line for more information.

The second draft needn’t be a scary or lonely experience. Come along on retreat, connect with other writers, and get a head start on the next stage of your project.

What tips do you have for tackling the second draft (or third fourth or hundredth for that matter!).

Hope you can make it to retreat – we always have a wonderful time 🙂

More lovely retreaters 🙂

Lots of love,

Edwina xx

THE “C WORD” METHOD OF CREATING CHARACTER DRIVEN NARRATIVES

Lucille Ball – one Crazy Character!

I may have gone a bit C Crazy but once I started, I just couldn’t stop.

As we all know the very best stories spring from the motivations, needs, strengths and weaknesses of the Central Character. The most important part of the word Character is the ACT in the middle. Action reveals the truth of who this person is. Not what they look like, though this gives us clues. Not what they say, though this can be great and very useful if juxtaposed with what they do. 

The Character must ACT, not react. They must Choose an action at some point, and they must Change or refuse to Change. This is what makes a protagonist the main character really.

Don’t go too crazy!

So, the C WORD METHOD.

A Character needs to have a CURSE, a CAUSE, CRAVING or a CALLING. They can have all four if you like but they must have at least one. This Curse, Cause, Craving or Calling – which in not C word terms would be your story goal or the character’s “desire” – usually springs from a CRISIS in their past. A wound or scar in their backstory that has shaped who they have become. 

For example, Madonna the pop star may have been a neglected middle child, always searching for her father’s approval so she CRAVED attention and sought it from the applause of strangers.

Harry Potter has a CURSE – the lightning bolt on his forehead is proof of this imbuing him with a piece of Voldemort. He also has a CAUSE – to save the world from the curse of Voldemort’s darkness and a CALLING – to lead the forces of good and defeat Voldemort. 

A story I recently wrote set during the reforming of the Catholic church through Vatican 11 in the 1960s was about a nun who CRAVED divine connection, was CURSED by her childhood in an orphanage and had once felt a CALLING but now found it lacking.

Nuns having fun 🙂

Figuring out your character’s C words will help form the plot of your story. Whether it’s flash fiction or a full-length novel.

            The C WORD METHOD continues as follows:

Start with your CHARACTER with a Cause, Curse, Calling or Craving

Then throw them a CALL TO ACTION – otherwise known as the inciting incident (also nice use of Cs) or CRISIS that spurs them to pursue their C word.

Then all you have to do is pile up COMPLICATIONS, CONFLICTS OR CHALLENGES into a CRESCENDO until you reach the

CLIMAX and then show us the CHANGE in the CHARACTER in the 

CONCLUSION!

Have fun creating chaos!

A cacophony of crazy Cs to create a cool, character-driven, competition-catapulting (fingers crossed) story!

Have a go. What is your character’s C Word?

Lots of love

Edwina xx