science fiction and fantasy writer

Guest post on turd polishing

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I’ve just done a guest post on the CSFG blog on polishing your turds (or, editing your first-draft stories). I’ve recently started taking a much more structured approach to editing, which seems to be reaping awards this year in terms of sales.

I’ll be teaching a workshop about it at Conflux 9 on 26 April.

– – –

On Polishing Your Turds

The first drafts of stories tend to be turds. That can be a difficult thing to admit about your newly completed masterpiece, but it’s okay: Mythbusters have proved that you really can polish a turd.

The easiest way to figure out how to polish up your first-draft turd is to get someone else to read it and give you critical feedback. Not your mum, or your spouse, or anyone else who might be more concerned with protecting your feelings than telling you what you need to know. If you want your story to be the best it can be, then you need to be prepared to receive and act on criticism of your work.

Ideally, you want your story critiqued by several someones, so you can get an idea of the spread of views and which opinions are shared and which aren’t. If you get six critiques and four people say that the ending of your story doesn’t work, you should fix up the ending. If you get six critiques and only one person says there’s a problem with the ending, then you can take or leave their comment depending on whether it makes lightning strike your brain, or not.

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