Maybe I should have named my blog Potpourri or Pastiche or simply a Savory Stew because I aim to throw a lot of different things into the pot, mostly about reading, writing and art, but many other things, too, because I’ve lived a long time and have a lot of interests. I also will include here thoughts of others I come upon who share my loves. Including those of you who care to share your thoughts and impressions.
LET IT SIMMER
posted by Ed Farber on August 3, 2013

 

Too often, new writers who dream of publication are in a rush to see their creations in print. They become so enamored of the words they have created that they neglect the most important part of writing for publication. I’m talking about re-writing!

Rarely does the first attempt at a story—the initial creative surge—become the final draft. Instead, seasoned writers painstakingly go over every paragraph, every sentence and even every word in a sentence, striking those that are less than they should be. When I am in the first flush of creative fury, I write furiously trying to get the ideas down. My words come quickly and easily. Too easily.  I discover in the first critical reading that I have used clichés because they come quickly to mind. They are the first to go. The overblown alliteration used earlier (third sentence in this paragraph) would also go. Aside from obvious grammatical and spelling errors (thank goodness for spell-check) the search goes on for better ways to make the language flow, the meaning clear.

When is the time to take this first critical look at your initial draft? Like a good soup or stew, it’s better to let it simmer. If it’s a short story that I am writing, I save it by title as Draft #1 and file it for a later look. In the meantime I go on to another task to take my mind off that particular piece of writing. How long before returning for the first critical appraisal? Long enough for that “first flush of creative fury” to fade away allowing for a more objective look. Maybe a day, a week. It depends.

When I do come back to the story, I can usually spot the obvious clichés and weak sentences. The tough part is being willing to scrap a line or paragraph you love because it does little to enhance the story. After going through the manuscript and making whatever changes I can spot, I label it as Draft #2 and once again file it away for awhile. I find that each time I come back to it after a brief  hiatus, I find something else I can strengthen, delete, re-write, improve until, finally, I decide it’s done. Some of my stories have as many as seven or eight drafts. And I keep them all on file, being very careful to make back-ups on disc or for storage elsewhere, just in case.

My advice, especially to new writers seeking publication of their stories, is never be satisfied with your first draft. Put it away for awhile and let it simmer. Then give it another taste.



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