2010
Nov 11

Cut, Cut, Cut (My Creative Process- Part 2)

by Hannah Holt »

one comment


There are two paths I take when revising a story. So choose your own adventure…

Path 1

1. Write a complete first draft in one sitting (700-1,000 words). Laugh. Cry. Declare, “This is the best story EVER!”

2. Save and walk away.

3. The next day (or week), open my document and think, Who wrote this trash?

4. Mercilessly hack away at the story, cutting passive verbs, adverbs, wordy passages, whole paragraphs… Anything, that doesn’t strengthen the story (lose 200-500 words in this process).

5. Save and walk away.

6. Revisit the story several more times, asking: Is the point of view right? Do characters jump off the page? Could the ending be better? Is the story consistent…

7. Email the revised story to critique group.

8. Meet with critique group.

9. Take critique group comments home, ponder, scratch head, eat chocolate, and rewrite.

10. Then if major changes have been made, take story back to critique group.

11. And the editing cycle continues until the story is submitted to an editor or dumped into the recycle bin.

Path 2

1. Write a sentence or two. See a vision of grandeur… Get goosebumps.┬áStop.

2. Outline, save, and walk away.

3. Roll the story around in head for several weeks (sometimes months).

4. The story arrives one sentence at a time as if dropped from a magical mist.

5. Weigh each word carefully. Slowly, finish the first draft.

6. Save and walk away.

7. Come back. Wow, the story still looks great! However, fix a few typos and tighten a sentence here and there.

8. Email revised story to critique group.

At this point Path 2 picks up at the same place as Path 1… However, while most of my Path 1 stories eventually fall by the wayside, I’ve never written a Path 2 story that I didn’t eventually submit… and receive a positive editor’s letter in response.

Of course, Path 2 stories only happen about once a year for me. Path 1 stories make up most of my daily writing. For this reason, I think of Path 1 stories as my “pump priming” work.

What is your writing process?

(To Read Part 1 in this series click here.)


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