Yes, I brought out the dreaded red pen and began editing — or rewriting — the raw draft of Max 2. Hemingway rewrote A Farewell to Arms 39 times because he wanted to get the words right. It’s axiomatic that you don’t really begin to write until you begin to rewrite.
I wrote the bones of Max 2 down and then I took a month off to let the draft settle. I picked it up again last weekend and read the book cover to cover, red pen in hand. I was trying to answer six questions. And these questions can be applied to a sentence, paragraph, chapter, or the whole damned book. They are:
- Does this sentence/paragraph/chapter advance the plot line?
- Does this sentence/paragraph/chapter advance character development?
- Can I shorten the sentence/paragraph/chapter without losing essential elements of plot or character development?
- Do I need this word or phrase, or was I in love with the written word when I wrote it?
- What does my character want when she does or says something?
- Why does my character need to do something?
I read looking for concept errors, plot omissions, and characters that were introduced but not developed. I was not doing a line edit or a copy edit for grammos and typos. That comes later.
What I learned didn’t surprise me. I have a lot of work to do. This time, I wrote a blueprint for Max 2. This saved countless errors in names and motives, because I thought that stuff out in advance.
Now, I have to do a very close rewrite. I bled red all over the draft, and I used about a pack and a half of sticky notes. Sigh.
And yes, I engaged in a teeny weeny “but first” and wrote a short story that I want to submit to the Wytheville Festival in June. It too needs polishing, so I work on it when I can no longer see what’s working or not working with Max 2.
I continue plowing ahead. Anything else would lead to mental stultification.