My brain is leaking. As I try to hold all the various gubbings associated with writing in one place, it invariably breaks down and leaks gray matter from between my ears. With any given story, I’m juggling so many rules it’s amazing I haven’t imploded, or worse.
OK, time out. Let’s make a list. A kind of tick list of things to look out for and avoid.
- Write the story from beginning to end and then edit. This, for me, is perhaps the most difficult. The temptation to edit so strong I can’t resist. Just remember a story is prone to change direction, characters can come and go. What you start with, may not be what you end with. If you edit as you write, it will take a long time to finish.
- Go back over and shape each sentence so it is at least grammatically correct. Each paragraph should follow consistently the opening sentence. Helps keep the flow.
- Go back to the beginning and write the hook. Something exciting and action filled.
- Look for active/passive voices. I’ve just been picked up for this. Setting can have an active voice as well.
- What mood/ emotion am I intending with each scene? Start crafting towards it.
- Think metaphor. Choose your words. What colour shows the mood? What setting is really an outward manifestation of the character’s life?
- Hunt down all unnecessary adverbs. Leave only those that modify the sentence and improve its meaning.
- Isolate dialogue. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it relevent?
- Editing knife at the ready, slice the fat, trim the excess.
- Each scene needs a beginning, middle and end. They need to be clearly identified, in my mind at least.
- Time to read out loud. And print the story. By doing both these acts, the eye can sometimes pick up what it may miss on the screen.
- Give it out for feedback. Important: give it to someone whose opinion you trust. Critical at this early stage.
- Keep reading through, until you are no longer able to make corrections to the manuscript.
- Put the manuscript away for a couple of weeks. A cooling off period. Then return to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
- Choose your market. Duotrope is always a good stopping point.
- Always remember to have fun. You’re writing the story because you want to. Any other reason and it probably won’t work.
Feel free to add any essentials to the list. I’m sure there’s more. It’s really more a reminder of the process, so in my eagerness to write I don’t forget the basics