Lessons My Rewriting Told Me

1. If the scene doesn’t move the story closer to a resolution, get rid of it. I wrote the funniest chapter and was even laughing at it myself during the third reading. Both people critiquing my work identified that chapter as laugh out loud hilarious. It was a real gem… that’s right “was”. The scene did absolutely nothing to move the plot along. It was like a side show at the circus. Now it’s gone, waiting to be turned into a short story, or it may show up in a future novel.

2. Get the point across in fewer words. Seems simple enough, but by reading the chapters out loud I could tell where extra words were clogging the story… cut … cut … cut.

3. Would an 11-year-old really say that? I’ve spent a lifetime around this age group and I still find some sentences sounding like my voice instead of the characters. This is a tough one to overcome, but my errors often come to light when I choose a random scene to read, or better yet, let a kid tell me what looks suspicious.

4. Get a beginning, middle and end. Sure your story has them, but what about each chapter? I found many chapters that were missing one or all of those essential components.

5. Put it away. Go to work, do yard work, take a walk, write another blog post. Getting that emotional distance from a story will only make it better when you return. How long is long enough? I found a week at a minimum, but have lasted as long as a month.

Doing these five things will get your story ready for curtain time.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
This entry was posted in Editing, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lessons My Rewriting Told Me

  1. lisenminetti says:

    I love love love number 4. Yeah, your books need all that, but each chapter? Yes, please! I need that reminder myself. That one is going up on the white board. Once I put up a white board in my writing space.

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