Imagine my delight recently, at having got a sniff of that elusive, thrilling - almost supernatural fairy dust - Agent’s Interest - in my YA novel, I locked myself away and started a re-write.  And a new-write.  And an old-write.  How can I cut that bit? I asked myself - that’s intrinsic to the plot! Yeah but is it? And that character - they just so have to stay! Yeah but do they?  I don’t know!  Ah, the mystery of How To Get There - to the end that is, the good end of a good book.  Because you thought you’d written that, right?!  A few things were pointed out to me, vis-a-vis plot/character/exposition/ie the whole damn thing, and now I have to start again - and extend it as well, dear god! - without losing the essence of the story.  Sounds a cinch.  No probs. Can Do It In My Sleep.  Not that I’ve had much, you understand, new ideas and conversations with my characters keeping me awake long in to the night. Thank Goodness for Sir Tim Berners-Lee!  Also, thank goodness for the generosity of all those writers, agents, publishers, and just Those Who’ve Had A Go, who share their knowledge and experience for free.  And with a good heart, too. (they’re hard to find, apparently). Caro Clarke offers some excellent advice and I have read and re-read (much easier than a write and  re-write, I can tell you) his advice and implemented some of it.  This article, published oh-so long ago by Beth Shope is also very useful, and I really like this one, from The Guardian, probably because it’s quite short and it was quite late when I found it.

So the gist of this re-writing lark is this:

1. Don’t think that final full stop is the final full stop.  It aint.  It’s the end of your first draft.  On the sixth draft already, you say? Then get some-one new, some-one you don’t know to read your MS.  Leave it on a train with a stamped addressed envelope and ask the finder to read it and send it back to you with their comments.  Stranger things have happened...(think message in a bottle...)

2. Cut out the crap.  Not got a working crapometer? Leave the MS on a train ....Ok, ok, may be we’ve covered that one, but again, you need to let someone else read your MS to highlight the not-so-good stuff.  Ask around.  Ask people who blog.  Ask people you know.  Ask people you don’t know. And the best thing to do is to ask several people to do it anonymously, then you should get a good over-view and it’s fair on the reviewer who may be cautious about their Crap Detector going completely over-board.

3. Use the Internet as an educational tool.  No, really, it can be done.  I know several people who are writers and are also dyslexic, and they use all sorts of help-sites to guide and improve their writing.  Do the same if you’re not sure what an adverb, an adjective, a noun or a compound noun is.  What I mean is, do your research - and not just about your story’s’ subject matter, but about how to construct a good sentence.   Or not.  Thank you, Seonaid Beckwith, for your freely-given hints and tips with this last point.