Unit 6: Developing, Revising and Publishing
“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” — Truman Capote
Click below for a video introduction to this final unit.
Creative writing has its source in dream, risk, mystery, and play. But if you are to be a good — perhaps professional — writer, you will need discipline, care, and ultimately even an obsessive perfectionism. As poet Paul Engle famously said, “Writing is rewriting what you have rewritten.”
Just as a good metaphor must be both apt and surprising, so every piece of literary work must have both unity and variety; craft and risk; form and invention. Having dreamt and played a possibility into being, you will need to sharpen and refine it in action, character, and language, in a continual process of development, revision, research and re-dreaming. This will involve both disciplined work and further play, but it won't always be that easy to tell one from the other.
In this final unit of the course, we'll look at developing and revising your drafts, before a word about self-publishing and getting your work out there. But first, try the quiz below to see the importance of rewriting even your titles!
This unit is about finessing, so let's start at the beginning: the title. It might be your first thought and the story flows from there, or the title comes to you whilst drafting. But the title can be the hardest decision, as you want it to be fresh and intriguing, while also relevant to your piece, but without revealing too much.
It could be anything: a noun (The Trial), the protagonist's name (Mrs. Dalloway), a key aspect of the story (The Thirty-Nine Steps), a concept that embodies the story (Brave New World), or a play on known phrases (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
Remember: everyone struggles with titles. For example, try this quiz in which you're shown a series of rejected titles for famous novels. You just need to guess the published title for each, type it in the box and click Check to see the answer.
- "Pride and Prejudice" (Jane Austen)
- "The Great Gatsby" (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
- "Lord of the Flies" (William Golding)
- "War and Peace" (Leo Tolstoy)
Consider your title with fresh eyes when going back through your draft and ask anyone who reads it whether they feel the title serves the story. If planning to publish, you may also want to search for the title on Google to see if and where it's already been used. A duplicate title is by no means a deal-breaker and there are lots out there (e.g. both William Faulkner and Edith Wharton wrote books called Sanctuary), but it can help to find something original.
When you're ready, click into Developing a Draft