Pump Repair First Repair,
Five steps to being a perfect writer.
You spend years pouring out heart and soul and the first advice many young writers are helped by is: “Don’t worry about it, your first draft is always ridiculous.” I strongly disagree. Just the fact that you have completed the first draft should indicate that you have won. I have heard it said that 80% of people who live in America want to write a book. That means 260 million people want the same thing you do. But how many people follow? Not many. How many people start their book but not finish it? Too many. So, if you have a bad fix, take a moment and celebrate … do something millions of people have never done before.
The first draft is exactly what it sounds like, the FIRST step, not the last step. If you weigh 200 pounds [200 kg], you do not expect to go to the gym and come out healthy the next day. Congratulations, you have entered the front door. Now? Below are five basic steps you can take to begin the process of preparation for mediation.
Step 1 – Cut the fat. The whole point of a difficult draft is to pull out all your ideas, to make the best story possible. When I write 70,000 words in the first frame I expect to lose 10,000 words in the editing process. Your results may be different, but the point is to remember that you should never use six words when three words do.
Step 2 – View your grammar. Only a few people write like Mark Twain or William Shakespeare. Maybe after you have two or three hundred issues under your belt you can ignore the rules … but I doubt it. Yes, that means more work, but it is not something you can skip because it is no longer fun. Check spelling, punctuation, use sentences, word periods and do it again.
Step 3 – Show, do not tell. Why does everyone keep saying what the show doesn’t say? Probably because we keep telling a story. You are not a journalist, you are not a storyteller … you are the creator of the world. As Anton Chekhov once said:
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me a glow in the broken glass.”
But remember, do not throw away good phrases and pretend to show the student something new.
Step 4 – A strong conversation. Not every conversation piece should have a conversation tag. When you repeat “Say” or “Say” ten times on the page, the reader is lonely. On the other hand, if you use a lot of different tags, you start to forget step 3 (show don’t say.) My solution is simple, whenever possible DO NOT use the tag. Sure, if you have more characters you don’t always have that choice, but the smaller the number of tags used, the better. Give your character a personality so that the reader can never guess who he or she is.
Step 5 – Keep it simple. Disappointed, it was beyond my ability to process. Many early writers did the same with their readers. They ride a roll, and a few hours later, they have ten grandma’s pages to go to the store. This applies to backstories, second characters, and descriptive descriptions. If in doubt, resolve it. If it can move forward the story lowers it. You have to decide which words are most important.
If you have never been to a gym before you start doing squats on your 200-pound legs and take a five-mile treadmill a day. Like your writing, you start at the beginning and work your way up. The above steps will not make your job look like Mr. Universe overnight, but that’s where you start to make a difference. Repetition is the key. Keep writing, keep editing, and practice. Do this, and one day … you no longer dream of writing that great American novel … you finish it.