Last week, we talked about how stories change from the initial story seed to the first draft. Then it dawned on me that I’ve experienced that same evolution between a first draft and a finished draft, where so much changed that I hardly recognized the original story any more.
For fun, I’ve used Microsoft Word’s Compare function to see if a finished draft is really as different as I think it is. (If this sounds like fun to you too, it’s under the Review section in MS Word. And if you’re like me and don’t keep copies of old drafts, check your emails for pre-revised versions sent to critique partners or beta readers.) One story changed about 95% across the pages throughout the various editing and revision rounds.
I think that’s a good thing. I know I’m still on the learning curve, and I want to apply what I’ve learned to my work. And beyond the typical word choice and sentence structure, I’ve learned to deepen the theme, add subtext, and change character motivations.
I’m proud that I’m able to look below the words themselves to see the meanings and impressions left with the reader. Those intangibles are what make stories worth reading.
Still, I know I have more to learn. Even after submitting a full request to an agent, I’ve continued seeking feedback and revising to make the story better.
This concept of continual evolution of both my skills and my stories doesn’t help my perfectionistic nature. After all, how can I ever call a version a final draft. That sounds so…well, final.
I think one thing we can do is be more aware of how to push our stories to the next level. Our first drafts might be our babies, but we have to force them to grow up and mature. A first draft is just the first step of many a story goes through on its way to becoming not just good, but great.
I chose this very topic for my guest post at the Writers In The Storm blog. Visit my post, Forcing a Story to Evolve—From First Draft to Finished Draft, to see my 6 tips on how to help a story grow.
And if you’re looking for general editing tips, check out The Perfectionist’s Guide to Editing.
How much do you revise your stories? Do you ever revise so much that you hardly recognize the first draft anymore? Have you ever used MS Word’s Compare function to see how much your work has changed? Do you have a hard time calling a draft the final draft? *smile*Pin It