Saturday, 15 February 2014

The 'Redrafting Your Novel' Recipe

This is my current recipe for redrafting my novel:

Ingredients needed:
A printed first draft chapter
A red pen
A notebook
An electronic version of the chapter

Optional ingredients:
Lots of water (this can be substituted for any liquids)
Chocolate - any shape and size
Writer's scarf - I shouldn't really have to mention this because you should already have one.

Preparation and cooking time:
This depends on your commitments and also the state of the first draft chapter. My original plan was one chapter per week but sometimes this takes longer as I need some thinking time to reorganise the chapter in my head, to think about new scenes, to decide if I need to make a major chop. Trust me, it will take as long as it takes. I started redrafting in January - I am currently on chapter four.


  1. Print off your chapter. Read from beginning to end, trying to resist the urge to make changes.
  2. Step away from the chapter and let the chapter seep into your head. Start thinking about the changes you need to make to take this chapter to the next level. Be honest.
  3. Start making amendments and adjustments with the red pen. Cross out sections and use your notebook for writing new sections. Try and think of all of the previous weaknesses from your past writing (I like to write long beginnings just so I know what my characters are doing before the action). Think of some of the crap books you have read and make sure you don't do the same.  
  4. Add another huge helping of honesty. 
  5. Take lots of deep breaths and use that red pen.
  6. Question every scene, every character, every sentence - do they advance the plot? Is this necessary? Stir, vigorously.
  7. Trim back the description. Or add more. You decide.
  8. Dialogue - read it aloud.
  9. Cut, chop and re-grow with new words. You may even have to chop the whole chapter. Deep breath. You can do this.
  10. Massage the good parts.
  11. jiggle the words. Make each one vital. Shake the scenes. Make each one vital. Rip apart and rebuild the chapter. Make it vital to the book. 
  12. Keep going even though there is a small voice coming from the back of your head, telling you it is all crap. It's not. You need an internal critic but sometimes its ego, like yeast, can expand too much.
  13. Add all of your adjustments to a new electronic version.
  14. And save!
  15. Reprint the chapter. Start again. OR move onto the next chapter and come back later once you have worked on the whole of the book.

1 comment:

C Snook said...

I prefer a yellow highlighter and post it notes. Red pens are too traumatising for me!