Finished a new story draft!

September 17, 2011

Well, it’s taken a bit longer than I might have hoped, but I’ve finished a new draft of my short story “The Trigger”, based on feedback I got from the Hamilton Writers group and the other two members of the ‘Terrible Trio’. (Which isn’t a name we settled on, because Lydia didn’t approve it.)

The length of this new draft is up by a remarkable amount – from 2000 words in my initial draft, which was a requirement of the SDMB short fiction contest, up to over six thousand! And what’s more, I think I’ve noticed something about the way I tend to tackle story revisions sometimes – not necessarily a good way or bad way, but figuring things out about my own writing process seems a useful thing to be paying attention to at this point.

The thing is, if I know I need to make big structural changes to a story, I don’t tend to work closely based off the previous draft and the critique notes I’ve got from it. I’ll review everything – and then start writing again, as if it were a new story, but based on the previous idea. If there’s a scene or part of a scene that I think would still mostly work, then I copy and paste it in, and edit as needed, but in other places I might just type in a few lines of dialog from memory, or descriptions, without even checking the last draft.

And then, usually, I go over the critique notes again, to make sure that I’m not repeating any bad mistakes from last time. I haven’t gotten to that bit with ‘The Trigger’ yet.

I’ve gone through this pattern a few times since I’ve started tackling short stories in the past two years – changing ‘Samantha and the Wolves’ into ‘The Wolves of Wyoming’, revising ‘Harry and Mars’ before I sent it in to the Kansas workshop participants, rewriting ‘Survey’ into ‘The Wyverns of Werness’ over the workshop weekend, and now ‘The Trigger.’

And this isn’t the only way that I do revisions – I did a fairly substantial rewrite of ‘The Landing’ based much more closely on the previous draft in August, and I’ve done some more superficial revisions as well. This ‘Scavenge and Rebuild’ tactic seems to be a fairly useful one, I think – probably should keep an eye on the results a bit before I let myself get too comfortable with it, but at least it’s a fairly fun way of approaching a rewrite.

What’s your usual approach to doing a rewrite, if you have one?


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