Today’s writing prompt is simple. The goal is to get you to think about your own work in a new light and by doing so, you can see any holes, shortcomings or other issues when you reread it for editing.
One of the biggest self-editing issues a writer faces is overlooking simple mistakes.
When you think about it, this is due to your love and knowledge of the story. For example, if you have a scene with a character walking across a bridge, you know what the bridge looks like, if it has any traffic, how long the walk takes what the weather is, etc.
When you are editing, you may not notice that you have it raining on one side of the bridge but sunny and hot on the other. Your character may put on a jacket but you forget to remove it or worse, have them put it on again.
These little mistakes happen a lot. It is normal and you aren’t a bad writer because of it. You are, however, a blind editor. You wrote the story that has played out in your head for months or even years, you know the scene backward and forward.
Anything you added or left out, that doesn’t fit, is overlooked by your own brain because it knows how to fill in the gaps or make small corrections. To a new reader, though, they will stick out like a sore thumb.
How do we fix this?
There are several ways, but today, we will pretend you are all alone and have to do it yourself. Let’s take a look at the prompt.
Pick any scene or section of your current WiP. Rewrite that scene like you are going to put it in a children’s book with an illustration.
Now, normally, I would do this with any scene but I would just say it out loud. Reading your scene to a child, or pretending you have to rewrite it for a child’s book for illustration is fast and easy. But this is a daily writing prompt, not a daily speaking out loud prompt.
The idea here is that we are taxing the brain to rewrite the story it already knows so well. It has to think about the scene as a whole and change it to fit the constraints of 20 words or so plus a kid-friendly picture.
When you do this, you will quickly and easily notice small changes (like wearing a jacket twice) that your mind would normally skip over.
The other option for self-editing is also fool-proof and fail-proof, but it takes a while. In that method, you put the book away for a few weeks (or a few months).
If you aren’t ready to shelve your book for several weeks until your brain resets on it, try this method out instead.
Let me know what you think!