Thursday, 27 December 2012

Tips for Writers: How to Cope with Rewriting

Hi everyone,

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I've spent a lot of it on my own, as there are no buses, and I didn't want to stay away. I've been studying writing style (no, you're never too old to learn!) I have Tom Bailey's book, 'On Writing Short Stories'. It is published by OUP, and it is most definitely NOT one of your write-to-formula books.

I have learnt useful things from it. Perhaps the most useful thing of all was a chapter by Robert Boswell, about how he got over a block on rewriting. He describes how he used to do anything to avoid it, and I could clearly recognise myself in his avoidance tactics. It's just too daunting, especially if you are a perfectionist and see the faults clearly. I also find it quite painful to realise that I can be so clumsy and inept. (Moi?) Much of my work that hasn't come out right first time is still sitting on the computer.

Robert Boswell writes the chapter on transitional drafts, and explains how he finds it best to tackle one issue at a time. He starts by correcting any minor grammatical, or punctuation changes, then moves on to another particular issue. If he feels that one character has come out with dialogue that's a bit flat, for instance, he will move on to that next. When he's done his best with that he will work at something else - perhaps making another character stronger. Each issue will be tackled in a new draft (with the first drafts - of course - carefully saved on the computer.)

I found this very useful. I do do it in practise, but I had never broken it up in my head, if you see what I mean. It makes it far less terrifying. I used to always feel I was writing one new draft instead of several (or many). This is why I have never understood how some writers claimed to have written 50 or more drafts. In fact, I now know, I've been doing it myself, and not giving myself enough credit for it.I wrote 522 drafts of my last play. (Only joking. :D)

The way you think about things is everything! I'll never be terrified of rewrites again, which is just as well because I have a load of them waiting for me at present.

See you all again soon,

Pippa x

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