The temptation when redrafting is to move sections, to tinker and to massage. The word processor has much to answer for. Here’s a quick technique for seeing your work with new eyes.
The he/she switchercise
Take either a whole short story or a chapter of a novel and change the gender of your protagonist. I know, I know, it won’t work, etc, etc. But bear with me. Do it and I think you’ll find things out about your characters and the way you’ve been writing them that you hadn’t realised.
This isn’t saying you should actually change the gender in your final story. Trying it as an exercise may help you investigate your unspoken, unwritten or unexamined assumptions about your character. It may give you the insight to be able to surprise yourself in your writing.
About Paddy O’Reilly
Paddy’s debut novel, ‘The Factory’, was in the best books of the year lists in ‘Australian Book Review’ and the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Her latest novel ‘The Fine Colour of Rust’ was released in 2012 (Blue Door HarperCollins).
On this website, you can find a video of Paddy’s Plotters vs Pantsers debate with Graeme Simpsion, her conversation with Kelly Gardiner about writing in company, and her advice about writing in invisible ink.
Update: Paddy will be running a half-day workshop on Editing Your Draft at Writers Victoria as part of our Novel in a Year series in October 2015.