At long last I have returned to do some concentrated editing and rewriting of the children’s novel I wrote last year. This is the novel I am writing for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree. It is now in its 7th draft (and counting).
You can read about how I went about the process of writing it here, including some articles outlining some of the background research, some of the considerations I needed to address and some of the problems encountered.
I had attempted to complete the novel and hand it up for assessment late last year but illness got in the way. Continued illness has hindered my progress so far this year too. After a break of over three months I am finally in a position to make a run for the finish line.
At the moment I am going through my supervisor’s notes and making changes where necessary. In many cases this involves changing a few words here and there, eliminating unnecessary words and phrases (and some ponderous sentences) and paying close attention to punctuation. It is painstaking work but very necessary. Not only do I desire a good mark but I also want to impress a publisher so much that there is no option but to snap up my manuscript and publish it.
Today I have been looking at the first few chapters. I want them to be the very best I can do. In many cases you have to win over the editor and the reader in the first chapter – sometimes even in the first page.
Some writing hints:
- Pay close attention to all punctuation marks. Get it right.
- Get rid of unnecessary words.
- Eliminate anything which does not advance the plot.
- Vary the length of your sentences.
- Make the opening scenes and chapters memorable in order to hook the reader into turning the pages.
I disagreed with a piece of wisdom printed in our daily newspaper today.
‘You can’t get to the top by sitting on your bottom.’ The Advertiser, Adelaide, March 27th 2010.
In many walks of life that aphorism is very appropriate: you can’t succeed unless you are willing to get up off your butt and get working.
I believe the opposite is true – in one sense – when it comes to success in writing. You can’t succeed as a writer unless you apply your backside to a seat and start writing. I guess the meaning is still the same; it’s just the way you do it that counts.
Many people are in love with the idea of ‘being a writer’ but are not prepared to put in the hard yards, the lonely hours at the keyboard, the frustrating wait to hear from publishers and all that other stuff that goes with being a writer. They want to have written, but do not want the many hours, days, months and years or dedicated sacrifice and hard work it takes to become a writer.
So I’d like to amend that proverb so that it is true for writers:
‘You can only get to the top as a writer by sitting on your bottom and writing.’