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About this book

This stimulating edited collection focuses on the practice of revision across all creative writing genres, providing a guide to the modes and methods of drafting, revising and editing. Offering an overview of how creative writing is generated and improved, the chapters address questions of how creative writers revise, why editing is such a crucial part of the creative process and how understanding the theories underpinning revision can enhance writers' projects.

Innovative and thought-provoking, this book is ideal for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Creative Writing, along with all creative writers looking to hone and polish their craft.

Table of Contents



1. What is Creative Writing Drafting?

Generally, drafting is defined by notions of foundation and organization, as well as by realness, which is the process of making something actual, and of declaration, meaning announcing the existence of a record as a piece of writing. All drafting involves initiating actions, establishment strategies, decision-making and a writer’s sense of satisfaction, as well as incompleteness. Creative writing comprises a distinctive kind of drafting, which can be referred to as ‘dynamic drafting’. Dynamic drafting is both an observable element of creative writing practice and a tool for considering our own, individual creative writing activities and for assessing the success of those activities. Dynamic drafting comes about through a heightened interaction between the imagination and the intellect. Dynamism is not only about actions; it also influences feeling and thinking and the exploration and foundation of knowledge. Creative writing’s dynamic drafting is representative of its particular engagement with the world, both in what it offers to our sense of understanding and how it connects us.
Graeme Harper

2. Drafting Autobiographical Memoir

The drafting stage is critical for success in writing an autobiographical memoir. In following William Zinsser’s characterization of writing a memoir as ‘a careful act of literary construction’ (2015, online), this chapter focuses on the essential, and often challenging, creative, ethical and emotional labour that memoir writers complete in drafting their manuscripts. After defining ‘drafting’ in this context, the chapter details the practical process of drafting autobiographical memoir, the elements of drafting, and the artistic and ethical issues and choices involved in – and affected by – the drafting process. Drawing upon the testimony of autobiographical memoir writers, gathered from interviews and their published musings on the form, this chapter provides significant insights into the processes and uses of drafting for memoirists.
Donna Lee Brien

3. Drafting in the Communication Industries: Undressing the Cover Up

The communication industries use the mass media – broadcast, print and the internet – to deliver messages to diverse audiences, both informing and entertaining. Writing for these industries varies, but includes campaign and strategic planning, writing copy for public dissemination on policies or issues, journalism, blogs, advertising and, increasingly, interactivity with audiences through social media. With so many opportunities to inform, persuade or simply be misunderstood, it is imperative that writers concentrate upon drafting, then crafting messages into appropriate and acceptable formats for the diverse audiences, both paying clients and the public.
This chapter will focus upon three main areas of drafting in the communication industries: public relations’ media releases; journalism, including columns and blogs, with a focus upon ethics in interviews; and finally reviews and features in broadcast, magazines and ’zines, with a focus upon writing for different audiences.
The author’s personal experience is drawn upon – in drafting reviews in print and broadcast, as a case study from the New Zealand media, as well as teaching media writing at tertiary level for over 15 years, focusing in particular on the changing field of teaching writing in this domain.
Gail Pittaway

4. Fashioning a Framework: The Role of New Technologies in Drafting Creative Writing Projects

The drafting process differs from writer to writer. For creative writers, it is often driven by the need to generate large amounts of text on the page and, now, the screen, often resulting in an iterative process. In this chapter, the authors offer approaches to drafting creative writing using new technologies, including those that are digital and cloud-based. Without a doubt, technology influences a creative writer’s drafting and creative process. Thus, we offer practices and considerations – for evaluating, selecting and using new technologies when drafting creative writing.
Russell Carpenter, Karen J. Head

5. Drafts as Archival Sources: The British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) at the University of East Anglia (UEA)

Drafting produces a variety of evidence of creative writing practice, not all of which is preserved – even less so in today’s contemporary digital world than was the case in the pre-digital past. The British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) was established at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the autumn of 2015. It is one clear example of ways in which archives containing draft creative writing offer opportunities for potential revelations about writers’ processes. It is also an interesting case study of creative writers’ reactions to the notion of retaining earlier versions of their works, the material behind the final, released results. The BACW, and The Storehouse, where authors are able to deposit material on a short-term basis, additionally raise questions about ownership of incomplete creative writing, notes and expressively transitory ephemeral materials, and in what ways drafting is a series of writerly acts that might increasingly be expected to form part of our pursuit of greater creative writing knowledge, given any continued growth in research and practice-led research into creative writing.
Justine Mann



6. Making Creative Use of Cognitive Stylistic Frameworks in the Revising Process

This chapter outlines a number of important theoretical frameworks in cognitive stylistics and offers examples of how they may be used to develop poetic texts in the revision process. The author discusses the relationship between figure and ground (see Evans and Green, 2006, pp. 65–75; Stockwell, 2002, pp. 13–26), and trajectors and landmarks (Langacker, 2013, pp. 70–73), because these are the basic level cognitive aspects of how we tend to apprehend the world and what is happening in it. Scripts and schema (Schank and Abelson, 1977; Semino, 2014, pp. 119–192) are also selected, as these operate on a more intermediate level in terms of the global state of affairs presented in the text, and the various states of affairs that may be evoked by the text in terms of previous experiences. Use is made of blending theory (Fauconnier and Turner, 2002) as it deals particularly with how metaphors operate. As an example of a more macro-level approach, the author also discusses Text World Theory (Werth, 1999; Gavins, 2007), as this is a global framework of text structure that can offer insights into the relationships between different types of worlds portrayed in the text. The chapter illustrates how these frameworks can be useful to poets in the revision processes by using examples of changes in poetic image or poem structure.
Nigel McLoughlin

7. Revising, Dramaturgy and the Theatre Workshop

Performance is a collaborative process. A script is written by the writer, but to produce a performance of a play, that writer has to work with directors, actors, designers and theatre technicians to create a final product – a performance to a live audience of the story the writer has created. With this in mind, when it comes to revising a draft of a new script, the process for a writer can also be collaborative. Collaboration for the revising process can range from a simple dramaturgical discussion with a director or dramaturge, to a rehearsed reading or scratch performance, to devising work or improvising around the script. All these processes are aiming for the same endpoint – to explore the script so that a director can get the words off the page and ‘up on their feet’. This process will help the writer to revise the script by observing how other artists, and maybe even an audience, interpret and react their words. This chapter explores a range of collaborative techniques for revising scripts when making theatre, to help the emerging playwright navigate this process and work towards successful and collaborative theatre-making.
Kim Wiltshire

8. Revising Fiction

Revising fiction involves moving a piece closer toward some original vision (structurally, thematically, tonally, philosophically, linguistically), while being open to changing one’s notion of the piece in light of what is actually being written. This chapter begins by highlighting the importance of revision, taking into account the myriad approaches that authors take to writing fiction. It highlights ways in which revision is a fluid and continual process, something that can get lost in attempts to demystify the writing process for newer fiction writers. It then interrogates the common approach of treating fiction-writing as an artisanal task, and offers both practical revision strategies and pedagogical tips.
Michael Kardos

9. The Role of the Script Editor, Revised

If script development is usually a hidden and surreptitious aspect of the screen production process, then the practice of script editing is arguably even more mysterious. All screenplays go through a script edit of some sort, but what that entails can be anything from fact-checking and proofreading, to structural reshaping and dialogue rewriting. Analyses of screenplays and of screenwriters’ processes often fail to acknowledge that the script editor exists and, furthermore, that they serve an essential purpose in the development and revision of a screenplay, and the ongoing practice of a screenwriter. The lack of published material on the role of script editor and the responsibilities they inhabit in script development is what this chapter responds to, shedding light on what is arguably a key creative role in the production of a screen work. Drawing on a body of recent research about script development, this chapter outlines the various roles undertaken by the script editor; the responsibilities they possess, including to whom and at what times in the development process they occur; and the ongoing relationships script editors have with others working in script development, particularly the screenwriter.
Craig Batty, Stayci Taylor

10. Revising Picturebooks

Picturebook texts nowadays need to be short and emotionally resonant to catch an editor’s eye. While there is no sure-fire formula to achieve these goals, there are concrete steps that writers can take to avoid common errors in this genre, as well as techniques and exercises that can improve the pacing and flow of the story. This chapter will provide guidelines and suggestions for revision including emotional connection, pacing, plot arc and language. At the heart of the endeavour are suggestions for the writer to visualize the text through the use of a thumbnail sketch analysis (even if they can’t draw stick figures) and to listen to the language of the text by reading it aloud, recording it and then revising all the passages that were rushed through, skipped over or whose wording changed during the reading. These visual and auditory exercises will help the writer revise to enhance the pacing and plot arc as well as the language in order to create an emotional connection with both children and adults.
Kathleen Ahrens



11. Editing as Dialogue in the Academy

This chapter explores editing as a form of dialogue in the academy, where creative and professional writing teachers perform various editorial roles. One goal is to help students to learn the art of respectful and insightful conversation, which facilitates editing, preparing them for further study or for careers in a mercurial employment environment where editing, as a generic and transferable skill, is valued. Teaching genres such as the conventional and experimental essay can work towards that goal. During the second half of the 20th century, the essay has morphed in academia into risky and transgressive forms alongside the standard academic template. Both provide students with texts they can imitate but also can reveal how work is constructed. Teachers can give students freedom to experiment, which illuminates editing practice while ensuring that they grasp disciplinary discourses. Editing in a generic sense can be understood as a form of dialogue that occurs on several levels within a community of practice, with the goal of producing a finished piece of writing. Teachers situate themselves at various points along a dialogic continuum, functioning as information hubs and as models of editing expertise, forging mutually beneficial relationships with individuals and with class groups.
Jeri Kroll

12. Editing Letters: Resources, Challenges and Mysteries

Presenting an edition of letters is a work of transformation, bringing together texts in an assortment of material states and written in various modes and frames of mind. Nevertheless, for print or electronic publication they are all shaped by editorial protocols, and thus, to use Walter Benjamin’s term, they lose their aura. As if to compensate, the way in which editors juxtapose material in a collection can create surprises and suggest new constellations of ideas.
Whether for a selection or a collection of all surviving letters, one of an editor’s tasks is to construct an interpretative frame. Authors and the recipients of those letters may be in perfect accord, but often enough misunderstandings come between them. As letters pass through time and space and become the property of others, puzzles and misprisions multiply. An editor must decide how much to explain, and how much to modernize, standardize or otherwise modify the original texts. There are no single or infallible answers to such challenges.
The examples in this chapter come from many times and places, but draw in particular on the author’s experience of editing Joseph Conrad’s letters. With such a mercurial correspondence, it is hard not to consider its generic affiliations. As a genre, letters may overlap with personal essays, experimental monologues, epistolary poetry or prose fiction. In spite of editorial constraints, letters never quite lose their unruliness, their immediacy.
Laurence Davies

13. To Edit or Not to Edit: The Foreign Language Classroom Question

Writing in one’s mother tongue (L1) is a difficult and complex skill to master (Maldonado, 2003). Professional writers engage in constant revision, rewriting and finally editing in order to reach the desired quality. Similarly, Creative Writing courses require students to hand in initial drafts of the work to be submitted for assessment in order to show progress, which further instils the importance of following these writing processes. Writing in another language (L2) is even more complex as the ability to write is linked to linguistic competency in L2 (Myles, 2002). However, students of foreign languages do not engage enough in the revision process, partly owing to language competency awareness (metacognition) and partly owing to foreign language assessment patterns, which offer few or no opportunities to resubmit written work for assessment and feedback. An empirical study was carried out to determine the writing processes completed prior to submitting a creative writing task, particularly editing, by undergraduate language students studying Spanish at the most advanced level (C1–C2) during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years. It found that many do not edit at all before submission and that translation from L1, rather than own L2 production, played a significant role in the task’s completion.
Elizabeth Maldonado

14. Diversity in Editing: Manifest Manners, False Representations and Rhetorical Sovereignty

This chapter builds upon the theories of Jean Baudrillard and Gerald Vizenor to determine how writers might edit to make use of the kind of realism Sherman Alexie draws upon in his representations of the reservation he writes about in his stories – or, at least, to rely upon source texts that are historically accurate to inform our own writing. Accurately representing historical and contemporary Native American peoples can be managed by conducting appropriate research. In addition to Alexie, this chapter describes representations by Frank Speck and A. Poulin, Jr, and makes suggestions for methods of editing those representations so indigenous peoples are described in realistic ways, rather than as simulacra, or copies where there is no original that those copies are based upon.
Resa Crane Bizzaro

15. Edited Collections: From Book Idea to Book Production

Working on an edited collection highlights general truths about editing that likewise pervade ideals and pragmatics of authorship. First, writing involves navigating individualism while dealing with questions of cultural and societal understanding – not least of a potential readership, and not unexpectedly in relation to that readership’s levels of understanding and engagement. Secondly, by navigating the individual-societal exchange, editing employs assumptions about how to ‘speak’, how to structure, how to pattern, how to appeal and how to produce an overall effect that will support and promote shared values and a community of interest. Practitioner and theoretician consumers at every level in the academy and beyond need to understand that comprehensive type of editing, which they will draw on throughout their writing lives. For the editors of this collection, identifying shared values and similar working methods among contributors within a book’s community of interest clarifies the editing process. This collaborative agreement revolves around ideas associated with ‘coherence’, ‘schema’, ‘rapport’ and ‘transference’. The provocative chapters included here on the theory and practice of editing a range of genres does not intend to provide an exhaustive overview, but rather to set the groundwork for future study.
Graeme Harper, Jeri Kroll
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