Writing Academy, Memoirs, Novels, Short Stories, Book Proposals

New York City Writing Coach

Gay Walley

The words, the words, the words

“This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in.” Oscar Wilde

Now it’s time for the third draft. Okay you most likely have ironed out the plot kinks. You have already gone over your dialogue to make sure it is subtle and does not repeat information that the reader already knows.  This draft is where you go over, and over, and over, and over, the language. This is usually a pleasurable activity for a writer. This is where you pay minute attention to each word and phrase and show your sensitivity to the language you love.

You cut out any clichés. You cut out any repeated words. You find a better word here. You describe that emotion a little more strongly, a little more specifically. You take risks in your language and describe places, people and emotions using your own personal love of words. You can always go back over it if you went overboard. But you push yourself to use the most exuberant, original language you can.

Sometimes when I am in this stage, I begin my writing “time” by reading a paragraph or so of writers I admire. This puts me in the “zone” and raises the bar.

This draft is very fun and where your style becomes most evident. This is where the words match the story match the plot. Where everything works together to give the reader the experience you want them to have.

Here is where you reveal images only you have. Where you elevate the language so that reading becomes an auditory pleasure for the reader. This is where you get rid of anything that sounds as easy as an email.  This is where the sensuality of the writing comes forth.

This is where you will be remembered as a writer. Because if your language is excellent, it raises the level of the thought. This is where you show your style. Since most plots are the same (we lose our fathers or someone we love, we fight against a system/person/nature, we make mistakes), it is the language and the intelligent way the scene is brought to the reader that tests the mettle of a writer. It is the selectivity of how the writer delivers information, and since this is an art form of words, your words are critical to the story.

So be exacting, energetic and in love with words as you create this draft. Be rigorous. “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” Dorothy Parker said.

This is where you have enormous attention to small detail and the novel becomes like a gem. This is where you build, word by word, a work that shines.