Understanding your rough draft

Do at least one of the following

  • Read the draft in one sitting without changing anything. Note changes you’d like to make.
  • Make an outline of what you’ve already written.
  • Write a one-page summary of the entire rough draft
  • Try the “shrunken draft” exercise.

Then freewrite tentative answers to these questions:

  • What do you need to do to finish?
  • What large (global, chapter-level) changes do you need to make first? Second?
  • What worries you about your opening? Your middle? Your conclusion?
  • How can you increase the reader’s engagement in the narrative?
  • Which scenes might you summarize? Which summaries need to become scenes?
  • How do you plan to show change in characters in the next draft?

And make a revision plan or at least a list of several “next drafts.”

  • Give each draft a specific purpose (i.e. “In this draft, I’ll rewrite the whole thing,” for example, or “See if altering the order of events increases drama,” or add scenes that characterize, or rewrite summaries into scenes, or cut clichés, or rewrite specific boring scenes, etc).
  • Think about sections/chapters and dividing and conquering so that revising each draft can consist of a series of smaller, less overwhelming tasks.
  • Save sentence-level/grammar issues for the last draft.
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