The end of an old year is a time to look back. The beginning of a new year is a chance, if not for resolutions, at least for a plan.
It’s always good to have a plan. Otherwise we drift through life and wonder why so little has been achieved. I’ve had various ambitions, dreams and desires, some of which have materialised, some not.
So much has happened in the world during 2014. The events, good and bad, have been reviewed and discussed extensively in the media. No need for me to add my opinions. Enough to say that my personal views often come out in my fiction.
My looking back this year included taking a fresh look at stories, novels and plays that I wrote some time ago. I approached the task with some trepidation expecting to find this early work full of errors that would make me cringe with embarrassment. A bit of cringing did take place but I did find enough promise in the writing to decide to re-write some of it.
I’m not yet ready to begin the third part of the trilogy of OASIS – ideas are still gestating – so this might be the time to start re-structuring, re-writing and generally editing my past work. I’m still in the planning stage. Once I start writing I shall know which pieces are worth re-working. It may be that I will decide that my ideas and my style of writing have changed so much that the task is not worthwhile.
Plans are important but they are not definitive. When looking at past work, I decided a few pointers in the form of questions might help?
1) What is the theme of the piece? Does it embrace ideas that I’m still happy about today? Does it fit into a specific genre?
2) Does the structure fit the needs of the story?
3) Do different narrative viewpoints add depth and variety or do they confuse? Are there too many changes of perspective or not enough?
4) Do the characters grab my interest and that of potential readers? Do they influence what happens in a logical way? Do the characters develop and change?
5) How does the setting support the theme and plot?
6) Do all the scenes, descriptions earn their place in the narrative or are some of them superfluous?
7) Is the dialogue believable? Is there too much dialogue or not enough?
8) Are there sufficient variety of pace, tension and mood?
9) How effective are the beginnings and endings of chapters? Look at the general shape of the piece.
10) Who would be your target readers?
That’s enough for a start. I’m sure more questions will occur to me as I attempt a re-write.
I trust that these thoughts might be helpful to other writers who want to take a look at their previous work and decide if it is worth giving them a makeover.