Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time is on Your Side

About a month ago, I finished the first draft of a short story called "Glory in the Wasteland." After the first draft was done, I moved on to other things, leaving it unedited.

Yesterday, I returned to the story, and gave it a good read-through. The story, overall, was great, but I cringed at a few touches I had thought at the time to be "cool" and "Tarantino-like." I mercilessly murdered those ugly passages, and now the story is ready for a spit-shining (or total destruction) at the hands of my Hothouse writing group.

The only how-to-write-fiction book I've ever read was "On Writing" by Stephen King (I'm sure many of you have read it, as well), and one of Stephen's many rules is that you should walk away from your story for at least a couple of weeks before editing it. Reason being, he says, only time can create enough distance between you and your story that you can read it objectively. Or, reasonably objectively.

In the few times my impatient butt has been able to wait long enough to adhere to this, the results have been startling. "Magic Words," after a few months, proved to be a flat-out badly-written story, "Dragon Dancer" turned out to be worth keeping, and "Glory in the Wasteland" might just be a winner. No matter what the case, the weeks between readings really does give you a better perspective. You're not longer in love with phrases or styles you used, so if you fall in love with them again...it's a good sign. And if you don't, then you know what to cut.

Give it a try, sometime. Writing is the profession of patience, so it's not like you're in any hurry.

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