We are already halfway through September and that means that I am already halfway through my Story a Day challenge. Not really, as I haven’t written anything new in the last couple of days. I might or might not catch up later this weekend. To be honest, I wasn’t so inspired by the second set of prompts, which were more like creative writing exercises than prompts.
But aren’t writing prompts creative writing exercises themselves, I can hear you saying. I guess so, I don’t know, you tell me. You can check this week’s prompts yourselves and see if they inspire you to write five new stories. Actually, a few of them are meant to rewrite a previously written story so maybe that’s why I’ve found it more difficult to draft new stories this week. Maybe, but hey, this needn’t be bad. In fact, something very good happened this week.
I was a bit discouraged at the beginning of this second challenge week but as I worked my way through these prompts, I suddenly realised how helpful they can be when revising and rewriting a story. And so, I applied them to a story I wrote a few months ago and which has been in my head ever since, though as much as I thought about it I just couldn’t find a proper beginning or ending and much of the wording felt wrong. Well, instead of gender-swapping any story, I just swapped the point of view of my characters; I somewhat changed settings by making them more real, as I filled in the details in my story; and I totally ignored punctuation rules and wrote a soliloquy of my main character, which helped me to get to know her better and polish her voice. So three prompts, three ideas, and three big changes to bring my
crappy story closer to a publishable story.
Yes, revising and rewriting can be tedious but it is SO necessary. And I am happy I just found these three wonderful ways to help me find out more about my stories and characters. I will definitely do more of this in the future, specially when I’m stuck in the middle of a story or am getting nowhere in the revision process. In a nutshell, I would say that sometimes a story needs to be bent, broken and fixed, in order to work and be published.
Bend it, explore other paths you did not take the first time, give voice to silent, object characters. Break it, swap bad for good, better for best, set a new order of events, eliminate scenes altogether. Fix it, find the right wording, let your characters shine, make your story the best it can be.
How do you revise your manuscript? Do you have any tried and trusted strategy for polishing your stories?