November 29th, 2004


NG's thoughts on rewriting...

One of the reasons I love reading Neal Gaiman's blog is that he comes up with genuinely useful gems like this:

(when asked for his advice on re-writing stuff that he's working on)

What I try and do is:

1) Finish it.

2) Put it away. Drawers are good. Don't look at it for a week or so.

3) Read the whole thing, doing my best to pretend that I've never read it before.

4) Fix the big things. (These tend to be things that pop out at you when you read it, like noticing that you've led up to the prison escape, and then meeting the prisoners after they've escaped, and realising that it might really have been a good idea to write the escape. Or that the first chapter would really work better as chapter 5.)

5) Read it through page by page and fix the line by line things. Notice that Omar mysteriously becomes Mustapha on page 50 and stays Mustapha until page 90 when he becomes Mustafa. Pick one and make it consistent. Wonder whether anyone will notice that you've put Paris in Belgium. Decide to leave it there, on the basis that no-one will notice.

6) Get up in the middle of the night and move Paris back to France.

Does that help?

In fact it does help. A lot. It makes the whole writing thing seem a lot less daunting once you see someone else's take on how they do it and it helps to see how they break it up into manageable chunks. It might not work exactly that way for me (especially since I'm a big fan of keeping things electronic as long as possible) but it's still very useful.

Heh, it also helps that I love his writing style :)
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