12 Baby Steps to a Complete Story: Third Draft

A Pen In Each Hand

So you have an idea, but you don’t know where to start… and the end seems so far away it might as well be on Pluto. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Follow the 12 Baby-Steps to a Complete Story and you’ll be on your way. Each month, we’ll post a new exercise. Do each month’s exercise and by the end of the year, you’ll have a polished story (or personal essay, if you prefer non-fiction) ready to submit!

The time-line here is designed for a short piece of writing, not a book, but if you’d like to do it with a novel idea, you’re welcome to. If you’d just like to do the exercises as practice, and use different pieces for each exercise, that’s fine too. Adapt the exercises any way you like. There are no rules, just ideas.

Background Image: Chad Norman (CC-by-nc-sa)

November: Third Draft
Exercise #11

Re-read your synopsis. Now re-read your second draft. Do they match? Is there anything you want your story to say that’s somehow not getting across? Now’s the time to say it. Polish your prose: agonize over the perfect word, dig for that unique metaphor. Use the feedback you received and tweak your story till it’s threadbare like the butt of your favorite pair of jeans. When in doubt, cut. You may have a sentence you love, but it doesn’t work or it’s superfluous, but you’ve been hanging onto it cause it’s such a great sentence. Cut it. Maybe it will find a home in another story, but it doesn’t belong here. Be ruthless. Pare your story to its guts. It should say what you want it to say and nothing more. When you can’t stand looking at it anymore, post it. Expect the feedback you get to be mostly UPOP this time. Enjoy! You’ve earned it.

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