Friday, March 2, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

  Story, Structure, and Style

At the last meeting of the Magic Pen Critique Group that I host in our home, my friends/members encouraged me to blog some of what I shared with them - here is a summary of my recent musings:

As I continued revising my WIP, I began wondering just what was I attempting to accomplish - I mean specifically. (It had dawned on me that I could revise my manuscript into oblivion!) It wasn't that I was opposed to the time and work necessary to be a writer; I just wanted to make sure I was making the best use of my time. Contemplating all of the information I have received over the years regarding the craft of writing, I decided I needed my own personal format to writing a manuscript. I always make an outline before I begin writing - however, it occurred to me that each draft should serve a specific purpose, not just random revising. Here is what I came up with for my personal format to writing a manuscript in three drafts:

1 - Story. We have all heard it - just get the story down! This is something I've struggled with; I tend to want to begin revising as soon as I see poor word choices, grammar, weak characters,etc. Thankfully, I recently had a breakthrough and can now just get my idea down in the first draft.

2 - Structure. This second draft is where most of the real work occurs. Character development, setting descriptions, scene progressions, etc. etc. It seems that at least two-thirds of my time is spent on the second draft.

3 - Style. The third draft is something I've always tried to fuse with my first draft - wrong! It completely slowed me down, and had me focused on things that were not important at the beginning of crafting my story.
This is the draft that deals with polishing my manuscript - hopefully making it shine with style. (This is also the step I acquire the aid of beta readers, and have the option of employing an editor to make my manuscript market-ready.)

These steps are nothing new, but the simple three-step alliterative list is something I can easily remember. Within each draft there are obviously a multitude of tasks to tackle, but now I at least know what I'm trying to accomplish in a broad sense. Each draft serves its own necessary and specific purpose; no longer do I feel I need to have a stellar story after the first draft!

I am presently re-working the third draft of my WIP with a local editior and I have beta readers waiting in the wings. I may also elect to hire an editor with specific skills dealing with children's literature - wish me luck!