Soon after I finished my first middle grade manuscript, the advice I got from numerous blogs and live humans was to let it sit for a few weeks, even a month. I followed the advice and everyone was right. My words looked fresh and I was able to evaluate each page with a more critical eye. I found plot weaknesses, scenes that could be deleted, and poor word choices.
I discovered what many other writers already knew: a writer has to become an even better re-writer. But letting the manuscript sit was only identifying problems, not changing them. I needed a rewrite strategy.
I had been reading a lot about brain research as background to my story. One thing that kept popping up was the fact brain waves change during the course of a 24 hour period. It seems to be different depending on the individual, but there will be times when you’re more creative, more productive, and depending on your own brain rhythms, comprehend different components throughout the day. Taking this research to the writing process, I tried a strategy that I’ve come to call Brain Blitz. Here are the steps:
- Depending on how much time you have, select a paragraph, page, or chapter that may need a rewrite. Concentrate just on that piece.
- I usually chose a whole chapter and went through it once in the evening, looking for better word choices and strengthening each sentence. Was there a more powerful way to convey my story?
- Early the next morning and one more time during the day, I would pull the same selection out and repeat the process of rewriting.
I found different ways to improve my writing with each session, often only seeing some things at certain times of the day. I was tapping into my brain waves and going with the flow for needed changes. Night seemed to bring changes in sentence order, new ideas would flow in the morning, and during the day new ways to say the same thing would arrive.
Example first effort: Entering the Happy Mart, I follow Jonson and we pass by several aisles before arriving at the pharmacy. (This screams boredom and does not paint a very visual picture for the reader.)
After Brain Blitz: The main doors fly open and I follow Jonson who always knows where he is going. We rush past racks of girls’ clothes and sidestep a mother chewing out her two small boys sword fighting with celery stalks. After stopping for a free sample of Happy-Mart’s new Green Cream Yogurt and Farmer John’s Maple Sausage Links, the pharmacy is next. (In my eyes, much improved.)
This one example shows how I used more words to create a scene, but I also have many examples that worked the other way– Saying something with fewer words, which in turn made it fresher. Anyway, give Brain Blitz a try to improve your writing.