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~First Draft to Polished Gem~
by Jannette Fuller
4/06/2016 / Writing
God has placed a call on our lives. Some are called to be apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers, and some are destined to write. That someone could be you! Don't let fear and doubt hold you back from fulfilling your purpose. It's impossible to reap a harvest if no seeds have been sown. Spiritual gifts and talents are given in order to bless others, not to throw away or to hoard. Matthew 25:13-30 (the parable of the talents).
We are blessed to be a blessing, but we're also blessed because God is good and He loves us. However, we can lose sight of this if we're not careful. For example, if a publishing contract, abundant royalties, a faithful readership, and divine opportunities come along with our literary calling, it can cause us to become prideful. We must remain humble and grateful, remembering that it is He who gives us the power to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
We should always keep our motives pure, writing for the right reasons, and not for selfish gain.
It doesn't matter what writing level you're at--seasoned, debut, or aspiring--you must sharpen your writing skills as much as you can. Here are some tips that can help nourish the gift you've been given.
Making the Time to Write
We all have different lifestyles and schedules. So if you work, or attend school, during the day, then you may have to wait until the stars come out to write. Or, if you work at night, then you can squeeze in a few sentences or paragraphs after waking up from your daily slumber. But what if it's impossible to write during the week? Then you'll have to modify your plans for the weekend, making the time to write.
Either way, write as often as you can. If you repeat something over and over, it'll turn into a habit. Not all habits are bad, and writing is a habit you won't want to break. Your vocabulary will expand, your voice will get stronger, your storytelling will become more compelling, your characters will grow, becoming more believable, your created worlds will become more fantastical, and your creativity will continue to blossom.
Write What You Know/Write What You Love
When you write something you know about, you're able to share your personal experiences and expertise with others. The same is true when you write about what you love. Whether it's a how-to book, short story, or a novel, you're taking what's inside your mind and expressing them through words.
If you're passionate about the words inside of you, they will shine brightly on every page you write. Your readers will appreciate it, too.
To Outline or Not to Outline
Outlines are very helpful, keeping the writer on point as to what they're writing, and when they should insert certain elements: back story, foreshadowing, the climax of the story, revealing secrets, the resolution....
Your outline can be as long and detailed as you want. But if you prefer something less complex, then a bullet list can be a good substitution. The bullet list can consist of each chapter's theme: specific scenes, location (s), time-frame, weather, the characters you want to showcase and so forth.
Still, there are other ways to blueprint your story. Index cards and storyboards are good options as well. But what if you don't like following the rules? What if you're someone who enjoys the unknown, enjoying the thrills and surprises of life? Then you may be a pantser!
If you're not sure which method will work best, then give all of them a go. What do you have to lose? Well, you may fall off your seat if you choose to write pantser style. The choice is yours!
It's important to entertain your readers, but it's also important to educate/inform them. This applies to fiction as well. Yes, fiction is about making up people, worlds, and situations that may or may not exist, but it's imperative to make your story believable. However, high fantasy may be the exception since all of it is made up. Or is it?
Editing is crucial for any type of writing. When editing is applied, it enhances the overall quality of one's writing. There are so many levels of editing, and spell-check is the least of them. Below is a quick overview of the different types of editing.
Copy editing is used to correct grammatical errors, punctuation, and verb tenses.
Line editing corrects awkward sentencing, spots redundancies, and picks up the pace to make the words flow better. It also switches out certain words for more suitable ones.
Content editing focuses on the entire story: characterization, dialogue, contradictions, plot holes, world building, and more.
Many experts in the world of literature have cautioned writers to refrain from editing while writing their first draft. One reason is because it can interfere with the writer's creative flow, keeping them from fleshing out their story. Another reason is because it can be a time- stealer, which is not good if a person barely has enough time to write in the first place. The biggest reason why it's important not to edit your first draft is because it will be a waste of your time since it will go through multiple rewrites, or more.
Read, Read, Read
The most effective way to become a better writer is to read as often as you can. Reading books about writing and editing can be helpful. But you can learn a lot by reading what interests you as well. If you like fiction, pay attention how the plot progresses with the turn of every page, and how it weaves the sub plot and foreshadowing along the way. Pay attention to the pacing, the dialogue, and the tone/voice of the POV. Is everything consistent? Believable? Does it flow well?
Reading sharpens the reader's mind, helping them grow in the mechanics of the written word--storytelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, consistency....
Whether you've started your writing journey or not, always remember that every story begins in your imagination. Once you write your first draft it comes to life, and every time it's rewritten, it undergoes transformation and growth. After the finishing touches it will be time to share your baby with the world--the awesome gift the Lord has put on your heart to write!
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Jannette is the author of the Ambrosial Acres Series--a YA mystery with a touch of the supernatural. She also enjoys writing articles on various topics, supporting fellow authors, and reading, of course.
You can find [email protected]
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