I’m still editing my next novel, So the Doves… of course.
Editing is the writing, all writing is rewriting. Right?
And you think it would be easier than writing the first draft. Shouldn’t it? The material is already there, you aren’t having to create a new world, new characters with complexities and drives and frailties and strengths. You’re not navigating the plot or wondering how to finish.
By now you’re polishing and smoothing, getting rid of excess, honing the language, teasing out the key dynamics of the scenes… aren’t you?
Except I’m not. I’m tinkering. I’m wrangling sentences till they dry and crumble. I’m beginning to hate my novel. I can’t see it clearly, and I feel lost in all the words. I’m too close. I read other authors and hold their work up as mirror against my own… and the reflection isn’t pretty. At all.
I want to give up.
Talking to other writers, my students and academics, I know I’m not alone here.
So what to do?
Take a break from it. Put it away, for at least a month.
Read, walk, walk TV, think, laugh. Live.
Share your work with trusted peers (even if you have a wonderful editor, like I have, I still like to get thoughts and constructive feedback from readers I trust and respect)
Print it out and read it through from start to finish. Don’t be tempted to start picking at it piecemeal.
Does it work as a whole? Any plot/structure problems to work on? Fix those first.
Read your feedback from peers/editor. Does it resonate? What will you incorporate into your edit?
Now open the doc, and start the edit – start on the big stuff (copy editing comes last)
Don’t compare your work to anyone else’s, you’ll feel miserable (or the opposite, cocky, which is worse) and it’s of no use to you now. This is your work, so it should be different.
Put it away again. Follow point 2. Let it rest.
How is it? I’m willing to bet it’s much better than you think…
But don’t be disheartened if you need to edit again, and again.
All right then! Just back from teaching a course in Flash Fiction and it was so productive and interesting as a tool in developing as a writer that I thought it might be fun (and helpful) to run a challenge..
Here’s how it works –
The challenge is open to all
I’ll post a prompt and a word limit every two days, participants can then post their stories (1 per person per prompt!) in the comments section
Feel free to comment on the stories and offer CONSTRUCTIVE and helpful feedback
At the end, I’ll choose 5 writers to publish their pieces here on my site (and will promote them like crazy!)
Just back from the glorious heat of Athens… a city dense with history and current political strife… In contrast, I was teaching a Flash Fiction course for KWS and the British Council, a style of literature that relies on brevity, and a light touch. I was spoilt by a week of great students, visits to the Acropolis, Poseidon’s Temple in Sounio and Aegina. I feasted, I read, I wrote, I walked… more to come from the writing… and discussed Flash Fiction.
Here are my top tips for writing Flash or Micro Fiction –
Every word counts.. so choose carefully, make every word pull its weight, either by suggestion, connotation or by cutting qualifiers or excessive adjectives/descriptors.
Begin mid-scene, in media res, with action or dialogue. Hit the ground running.
Don’t end on a punchline or revelation, unless you’re writing a joke… let the story unfold, meander and reveal itself in the mind of your reader…
Your title should add to the narrative.
Details are key; reveal character, place, emotional dynamics etc by using carefully chosen details that are evocative, remember it’s all about connotation.