The website of the historical fiction writer.

Festival of Writing 2016 Part Eight

The next session was about the art of the rewrite with our host Julie Cohen.

Writing a first draft can be a very long and drawn out process of failure but rewriting is the golden opportunity to make your work better. Therefore it is essential that you do not share your first drafts with anyone (I really must remember not to make a treasure map showing where mine are buried). The first draft is also essential for getting the story down and facts can be checked later (I always worry I might put out a book with <CHECK> written all over it…) Anyhow, some very helpful advice we were given was, when finishing the first draft, the first thing to do, other than put it away is have a drink.
In fact, when you’ve reached any milestone, have a drink.
After the first draft and drinking, leave it for a month then make a list of revision points. Then make some more and cross them off as you go. There are two types: macro (whole text alterations such as structure, characters, plotting, pace, start and finish and continuity and consistency) and micro (showing/telling, dialogue, descriptions, verbs, spelling and grammar, repetition, repetition, repetition and research).
Then there’s the next bit that involves a visit to the art shop: scissors, colouring pens and post-it notes. Post it notes can show the different stages of a story and different colours can show how the sub-plots can be woven in.
Then get some writers to have a look through it for you and come up with their own comments.
After covering the house in post it notes, rewriting, getting people to criticise, editing again through your tears, you can then celebrate.
And that brings us to the end of another Festival. My thanks go to the organisers, the workshop givers, the agents who took the time to read through my work and to all the friends I’ve made to make the weekend so much fun!
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