The big question for me at this very, very early stage as a would be writer is how many times should I re-draft a piece of work. I redrafted my assignment for the Writers’ Bureau, 4 times and that assignment consisted of 3 very short (100 words) readers’ letters to various magazines and a 500 word filler. And even when I pressed the send button, I then re-opened the document to check it one more time. How do you know when you’ve got a piece just right or could there always be one last re-draft? I suppose that a good test of when a piece of writing is ready is when you no longer want to change it. Or, when you change something and the next time you read through, you change it back. I’m going to go with this. Especially as for my mini scribbling, four times seemed to suffice. After that I really couldn’t see anything else that I wanted to change, add or take away. It must have worked too, because when the assignments came back, the feedback from my tutor was that they were ready to send off to the various publications that I had written them for. It was a good feeling. The collective pieces may only have been 800 words, but I had worked on them really hard and the bigger piece of 500 words was important to me. Let’s hope the Guardian agree and print it in their Saturday Family section. Still if not, my tutor has advised me to try a different publication as she liked it. But… How does the three to four re-drafts work with a novel? I can see it with a short story or one to two thousand works but when you’re looking at 70,000 words that is a lot of re-drafting. And, how do you keep tabs of it all? I have been working on a novel for the last two or three years. It is in a rough draft stage: very rough draft, I have to say. In fact it was the limp along nature of my writing this novel that made me decide that I needed to get serious and work on developing as a writer. Enter the Writing Bureau Creative Writing course stage right.
I’m am around half way through at the moment. It’s at about 30,000 words and I know that it needs drastic re-drafting. In fact, if I’m honest, the first part of it needs completely re-writing because as the character and the plot have developed, I’ve change my mind completely about certain key things. That’s fine. I’m good with the re-writing as that will be a redraft of a drastic kind. But what about when it’s finished?
Do I stick to the four re-drafts rule? Do I do a chapter at a time and work on that until I feel satisfied and then move onto the next chapter, or what? I guess I won’t know until I try. One thing that I do know is that I’m going to need some form of novel writing software to help the process along the way. But that’s for another blog.
For now here is a picture of one of our greatest writers, taking her rightful and hard earned place on our currency. Thank you Caroline Criado-Perez.What a shame they didn’t use the original version of this drawing, rather than the Victorian, prettified version. Still there she sits and long may she stay there.