As promised, here are my notes on Jude Evans’ seminar ‘Redrafting Your Work’, given at the Winchester Writers’ Conference on 2nd July 2011. Although it is aimed at children’s writers, I’m sure Jude’s advice would be useful to anybody looking to improve their first draft.
I have also typed the notes up as a tickable checklist, so if you would like to print this off (and tinker with it to suit you) please download as a Word document by clicking on the link below.
REDRAFTING YOUR WORK
(notes from Jude Evans’ seminar at Winchester Writers’ Conference 2 July 2011)
Put away your book for 2 weeks! Now re-read.
Does the mood and atmosphere come through strongly?
Are the characters convincing?
Does the writing flow?
What are the best bits?
Read again, this time with your red editing pen! Be objective and break down the prose to look at it from different angles.
Draw out a diagram/timeline of your plot and look at the narrative pace, the highs and the lows.
Is your plot watertight and logical?
Does it compel the reader to continue? What is the hook?
What can the reader identify with?
What makes it special?
Is it immediate? Will the reader feel dropped in to the scene?
Use economy – don’t weigh down with explanation.
Will it make the reader remember the book?
Does it make the reader feel the way you planned, eg inspired/shocked?
Use economy – don’t weigh down with tying up loose ends.
Does the resolution work?
Imagine a scene as a film – have you described enough to make it real? If not consider adding movement or detail to bring it to life.
UNIQUE SELLING POINT
Research your market – look in Amazon, bookshops and libraries.
What are people talking about online, eg forums, mumsnet?
What is your strength?
Will your book sit well in publishers’ lists? (If not, is it special enough to make it even though it’s different?)
WHAT IS YOUR BOOK ABOUT
Can you capture it in a few sentences?
Why would a child want to read it?
Is the message clear?
Are they memorable, individual and real?
Do they have quirks, attitude, humour?
Is their dialogue natural, eg own turns of phrase?
Do they behave true to character, not as slaves to the plot?
Imagine a scene as a film – have you described enough to make it real?
Is the reader experiencing events as vividly as possible?
Is the description a high point, or dry and flat?
Are you showing, not telling?
Is it suitable for your audience?
Is it consistent?
Does it communicate what you planned? (NB Don’t worry about this when you are in the flow of writing – think about style and tone afterwards.)
Have you leapt straight into the story? Are the hooks early enough?
Is there enough action or intensity?
Do you make clear the time of day/year?
…the country or place you are in?
…the place in history?
Is the world believable and real?
Are you drip feeding or doing an information dump?
Is it suitable for the age group in its
What makes it appeal?
Have you immersed yourself in their culture?
Are you reading and analysing the work of others in your field?
Cut out anything that doesn’t contribute to the plot.
Are any characters or scenes taking the reader down a cul-de-sac?
Read it aloud.
Discuss the plot with someone. Can you describe it clearly?
Write yourself an editor’s review letter.
Write a synopsis – it acts as a mirror to your plot.
Get feedback on the synopsis from a friend – does it appeal?
Write a blurb.
Put the manuscript aside for 2 weeks.
Repeat until your book is the best it can be!