First of all, I am so glad that I don't have to be perfect. So glad that I can write down a first draft and know that I can come back and make changes. The truth is, every piece of first draft writing is like a lump of clay that a potter puts on a wheel. It then needs to be shaped. Fortunately, a piece of writing can ALWAYS be revised--unlike a piece of pottery that gets fired into a permanent shape. Even PUBLISHED writing can be revised by the author.
I like to think of revision as re-envisioning my writing. I write a draft and then get with some of my writing buddies and ask them to read it. I want them to help me dig deeper by asking questions. I might have a question to ask them--like, Do you think that last sentence feels right? They might then give me a suggestion. I know that as an author, I can accept the suggestion or not--it's my choice.
When I go back to do a second draft, I look at the questions and the suggestions and I write about each one. Then, even though I have a computer which can cut and paste, I like to cut apart my drafts and move them around, paste them into a new order. I'm not the only one who does this. Many authors do...including Cynthia Leitich Smith. I've included a photo she took after she cut and pasted to dig deeper into her new novel. Here's a tip: even if you glue things down--you can always cut up that piece of paper!I love being surprised by what my second draft looks like--it's like watching a bean stalk grow toward the sun--and I don't mean just in length but in strength--finally flowering. I'm not yet at the point where my stalk or writing will actually produce--that requires a final polishing and editing--but more about that in the future~
Assignment: This week, choose a piece of writing to re-envision. You've been writing ALOT. Make a choice from:
- Your photograph paragraph
- Your "show more than tell" feeling story
- Your letter to Kek
- Consider your draft and its format. Can your photograph paragraph turn into a story with a beginning, middle and end? Does your feeling story have a good beginning middle and end--does it really get across the feeling through events that happened and details? Is your letter to Kek have all the parts of a good letter--introduction, middle, and conclusion? Do you have a need for some suggestions? What questions do you have? Write them down.
- Share your draft with a classmate and ask him or her for some small and big potato questions AND ask them if they have any ideas for suggestions. (Just listen, don't argue! A writer always gets to decide what goes in his or her own writing.)
- Write the answers to the questions and try writing to the suggestion. You don't have to write alot--even a sentence will help you explore.
- Look at the comments and questions I have made on your writing and write about some of those.
- Get your supplies together: glue stick, scissors, a large piece of paper and a highlighter.
- Highlight the parts of your draft that you really like--what you want to keep--and cut them apart.
- Arrange these pieces on the large piece of paper in the way that feels best to you. Glue them down.
- Read back through this new draft and see if there are places where you might need another sentence or another suggestion. Don't be surprised if you feel like you do--