Now, I’m sorry but I have to ruin your party. Because if we have had fun so far, the time comes for Hard Work (eh, you can’t escape from there. The Hard Work is always there, in the end. In all things).
Now, after leaving so much space for that wonderful inspiration that raged inside us, we have to roll up our sleeves. Locking up the Instinct in a closet (which I cancel, I have to say goodbye to my favorite word) and make room for Rationality.
Take up your text
Read it for the first time and don’t change it, please! Don’t stop if you find the sentences are ramshackle, the words repetitive and the text flat like an elementary term. Only note, in this first re-reading, the things that do not go from the point of view of the plot (a character who dies here and immediately reappears as fresh as a rose? Naaa, unlikely: to mark. The weapon of a crime that before is a a knife and then a gun and then an African spear from the colonial era? Obvious: to mark). After that, once the first re-reading is finished, get yourself a ladder.
Already, in the end we got there anyway, to the lineup. Because it is necessary, because, unless you have everything well outlined in your magnificent little head, you risk the details escaping you. But at least, believe me: you have an advantage, because you have already written your story, at this point you only need a map to appropriate a territory that you already know, not a detailed map of a city where you are never states, so if you lose the map you lose yourself.
After finishing the ladder, decide what you need to do. Rearrange the scenes as they are better (which is the attack of the story, which is the ending), take courage in two hands and force yourself to eliminate the scenes that you really don’t need (too slow, or useless because they don’t carry out the plot) , or at least to reduce them to the bone. In some cases, unfortunately, you have to be merciless.
Then, when you have understood the plot of your story or novel, change the text. Adjust, if some correction is enough here and there, correct if certain parts seem too incongruent, write in the interstices, connecting the scenes to each other. Work hard, the text certainly needs it.
Well. You have a new version of your story, a little more linear from the point of view of the plot, but, in all probability, still raw in many other details. Read everything again; this time, focusing on the characters. How are they? Beautiful, of course. If you have taken this writing business seriously your characters are not just a fiction: they are friends, brothers, sometimes even the guys who are a little unpleasant to you, let’s face it, but all in all you are fond of them. In short, you know them as well as the rooms in your home. But … you can do something to improve them, can’t you? Add some typical gesture, for example (a continuous ticking of the fingers on the edge of a table, an emphatically moving hair away from the eyes, things like that). Check that they are consistent with themselves; and, if they are not, make sure there are, at least, reasons that force them to change over the course of history.
And now, get a character sheet. Such as! You will protest. But hadn’t he said there were no rules? Tranquilli. These are rules of speech. Because again, Hard Work is facilitated here. After having thoroughly written the characters and their adventures in the first draft phase, you could now compose the card even with your eyes closed, right? You just need to keep everything under control. Don’t miss out on the fact that X’s eyes are topaz-colored on page 226 to suddenly become amber on page 735.
Finished the second rereading? Let’s start from the street! And you take the text again, and rewrite it, revise it, rectify it based on the new fixed points you have established.
What do you think, at this point, how are you? The thing will start to get easier, in my opinion; but the Hard Work is not yet finished, alas.
Now you have a plot and more or less defined characters. Take a deep breath and approach the third reading; this time, you have to think deeply about the setting (or setting if you prefer). Here the Hard Work becomes almost Impervious, to say the least. Because you must be absolutely sure that what you have written is supported by in-depth documentation, which is realistic. If you have written a story set in Egypt from the era of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut (study his biography, which is worth it: the only Pharaoh woman in history), make sure you know not only with a good approximation but also with extreme accuracy all on what during his reign he ate, drank, what kinds of wigs were worn, which religion was practiced, and the course of the climate, and the wars or migratory waves from neighboring countries, and the engineering skills, and the writing, etcetera etc. (and, again, etc. There is no end to the details that may prove useful).
Having said that, however, remember: you have a story / novel to write. Unfortunately, you don’t have all the time in the world available (unless you want to spend a decade writing a story with a few folders. It could be an interesting experience to feed your speculative soul, but not very effective in practice) . Therefore, circumscribe concentration; measure your strength; choose what to study (about my favorite words: studying is not bad. But having fun is even better. Learn to study while having fun: it’s the best thing). If you are writing a story about the unfortunate death of Tutankhamun (it is still not certain, but it seems that he died because of the consequences of falling from a chariot) it may not be necessary to go and read up in depth on the construction techniques of the pyramid of Cheops to say. But it would be more than useful to take a virtual tour of the Cairo Museum to see how the splendid funerary mask that covered his mummy was made (another tip: look for as much as possible pictures or drawings of what you want to talk about. Tickle your memory you have to have in your mind a perfect reconstruction of what you intend to describe, if you want to choose the right words without fail.
And after finishing the study and, again, having even clearer ideas, what should we do? Guess!
It rewrites, revises, corrects the text.