Don’t bother to read this. It’s just for me. It might be witty and a little wise but this is something I did for myself.
- redraft: draft (a document, text, or map) again in a different way
- edit: prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it.
Both aim to make it better.
- Identify what you want the material to do
- Determine whether it does that or not
- If not, figure out what is missing
- Work out how to fill the gaps
- Fill the gaps.
- Shred the whole thing and start again.
Not enough time for approach two.
What do I want the material to do?
Entertain. I want your average reader to regard the experience of reading this book to be better than living their own life. I want them to immerse themselves in this world and then, when they finish the novel, not to want to come out of the world. All the other things such as be informed or be transformed are of secondary importance.
Does the material do what I want it to do?
No, not yet.
What is missing from the material?
It’s not immersive enough yet. Parts of the prose distract readers from losing themselves in the fictional world; they remind them that they are reading a book:
the character (or maybe the author) does not like to explain things fully. they want to let the reader figure things out for themselves. this is fine in a murder-mystery but not so much in a futuristic space drama. in the former, it is expected. in the latter, it is somewhat annoying. And distracting.
there is so much shuttling about between present and past (or, depending on your perspective, present and future) that the reader is continually having to work out when the story is set at any one point.
because it’s the first draft, there are lots of errors in the grammar, syntax and spelling. these things really distract from a story. nothing worse than trying to make the reader think that Kate is cool when all they’re really thinking is that the author (or the editor (same thing in this case)) is an idiot because he can’t spell.
it’s possible that I got distracted whilst writing and changed the name of a character or two halfway through. it’s best to catalogue the characters and consistentise the names. Also, are the spaceship names good? Not even sure that the Chinese ship has one.
some of the scenes and characters may not be described in enough detail for the reader to get a mental image of what they are reading about.
How do I close the gap between what is and what is good?
don’t imagine that the reader is smart enough to figure stuff out. imagine you are writing for an idiot. okay, maybe not an idiot, but at least for people that are reading a book in the evening to relax their brain after all the complicated stuff they had to put up with at work or at school. Or for people who are reading on the beach or on an aeroplane and want to be distracted from the sun or the air-con or whatever. explain. make it easy for them.
put everything on a timeline. date everything. put headers in front of the text when and where time and location change. be kind.
just go through and correct the errors in the grammar, syntax and spelling. make a sweep through by reading and correcting then another sweep by having the machine read it to you and then print it off double spaced and get someone else to read it.
make a chart (or a list if you can’t manage that) of all the people, objects (spaceships) and place names in the whole thing. do this as you’re reading through so that you can correct using search/replace.
engage the senses. add sight, sound, smells, savoury, sweet, silkiness, strong and extrasensory elements if appropriate. really flesh out your words.
And now you’ve got a plan; now you know what to do; JUST DO IT!