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Winning Writing Advice: On Rewriting

By George Choundas
NMW's 38th Fiction Award Winner

The first part of writing a story is trepidation. Sometimes you start with a placid ease, sometimes with a flash of conviction. Almost always those fade and leave you cold. You're a babe in the woods. You don't know what the hell.

The middle part of writing a story can be sweet. You're no longer gripped by fear and confusion. You're capable, your experience with the story builds into a warm momentum. On the other hand, you're still earning your way. The labor does not feel like a penance. The fruit does not feel like your due.

The last part of writing a story: a heady compound of high and low. You've been through so much. You don't scare easy. This hard-won armor lets you move swiftly and definitively. That participle has to go, this subplot can suck it. But underneath that armor is serious vulnerability. You've been through so much. You have so much to lose. Just because you can move swiftly and definitively doesn't mean you do. In fact you're positively precious about where you step. The participle goes back in, the subplot can still suck it. You have so much to lose. It's a different kind of trepidation, and perhaps it's just when this full circle completes that it turns to something else: Satisfaction. Exhilaration. Redemption.

These stages may sound familiar. They should. Writing a story is like living a small life—the adventuring, the prevailing, the creating something along the way that did not exist before. I've heard people say writers and artists toil to evade death, to achieve a kind of immortality. I don't know about that. That seems ambitious. Very little of that is in your hands, and much of it may be only in your head. But writing because you want to live more, because you want to live life over and over? Because you don't want to content yourself with just the one? That sounds about right to me, and good. Very good.

George Choundas has fiction and nonfiction in over twenty-five publications. He is author of The Pirate Primer, a former FBI agent, and half Cuban and half Greek.
Read "Troth," his Award-Winning story, HERE.
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