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How To Revise a Draft

Creeper50 September 24, 2016 User blog:Creeper50

Revising is one of the most importatnt things any writer should do. It ensures that all characters are dynamic and interesting, that the plot doesn't have any holes, that the story is unique from the millions of other stories out there, and so much more. So how do you do it?

Take a Break

Before you dash into revise-story land, take 2 weeks to a month off from writing. Don't just do that, pretend you are not a writer. Don't talk about the story or start a new one or make plans for revisions in advance. Don't do anything related to the story during the break. That way, by the time you're ready to get back to the story, your proudness of having completed the first draft will have faded away, allowing you to detect every mistake.

Fixing the Plot

Plot holes are the main source of plot problems. Plot holes are, according to the google definition are, "inconsistent or impossible events in the story." If your character is driving a car in a story that takes place in 1878, there's a plot hole. If your obese character is somehow able to fit through a sewage pipe, there's a plot hole.

How do you fix them? Read through the entire story in one sitting, but do not edit anything. Instead, open a word document and make a list of all the holes you've noticed. Additionally, write an outline detailing all the events in the story. In the outline, note any events that are the result of previous events. That way, you will not only find additional plot holes, but also determine if there are any scenes that don't help the story move along. Once you have all the plot holes noted, do not fix any, as when reading thorugh, you need to read like you're a reader and not a writer. There will be time for that later on.

Fixing the Characters

So, you know the issues your plot has? Good, because now we're onto the next step: characters.

Read through the story in one sitting again, also without editing, listing the behavior of the character's, from what they like and dislike to their quirks in the opening pages. Think of how they behave in the start as the rules of what they do throughout the story. See if they violate these rules without explanation. Lastly, note any development that the characters undergo, and see if any of these 2 problems occur:

  • The characters don't change or change completely.
  • The characters' change is not explained.

Be sure characters change in someway or another over the course of the story. Perhaps they conquer an internal weakness or reach a goal they wanted to reach. How they change is up to you, but be sure that they change in a way that is explained clearly. Afterall, character development is half of what makes the characters in fiction so compelling.

Fixing the Dialogue

This is much easier to fix than the others. Read through once more and note how the characters speak. Again, we're only listing problems, not fixing them. Be sure they speak in that way throughout the story, unless changing how they speak is part of the character arc. Also, be sure the characters speak in a unique way. Perhaps they use slang from a profession or place, or have a lower or higher diction than most do.

Fixing Exposition

Exposition is any backstory that is important to the story. Without it, the audience will be unable to understand the story or characters. Be sure that the exposition is given more through image and action rather than dialogue.

For reference to good exposition vs bad exposition, although I don't often do this, we're going to use a movie as an example. Let's suppose in a movie, such as in Signs, the backstory involves the main character losing his wife in a car crash. A lazy example of revealing this would be a voice-over, or some character saying it for no reason. Instead, Manjor Shymalan reveals this by showing a shot of a photo of the main character sitting next to his wife. Then we see him waking up by himself in a bed made for two. It is quick, and lets the audience guess what happened rather than telling them.

After Finding All the Problems

Did you forget back then when I told you not to fix any problems until you've noted all of them? Well, since you've made it this far, time to fix it all! Look at the list of all the problems you've found, and start fixing them in the ways I described above. Once you've fixed every problem you found in the previous readings, go back and repeat this cycle several times. The number of times you'll need to do this will always be at least 5, but it should be more if you're writing a longer story, or if it is filled to the brim with characters and subplots.

A Final Note

Lastly, do not rely on the writer's workshop to improve stories. It can help to some degree, but since it is based on people's personal thoughts, it could risk you doing "revisions" that pander to what genre or tone people enjoy personally. Just ask for the thoughts of one or two people, determine any good advice that those 2 give, and leave it at that.

Creeper50 out now. Bye.

Creeper50 (talk) 22:40, September 24, 2016 (UTC)Creeper50

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