X-Ray your Story

We have reached the more interesting letters of the alphabet. Today is the dreaded X. Arguably the most difficult letter to blog about from a writing point of view.

I had the idea for this post several months ago. A week or so after I finished writing the first draft of A Scream in the Woods from Camp NaNo, I printed it off and tried to put it out of sight and out of mind for a few months. My mind wouldn’t let me off that easily and I kept thinking about the second draft and what I wanted to do. How I wanted to play it.

It made me think about how I would approach the second draft this time. To do that, I need to break the story down to the bare bones and see what’s missing. Sort of X-ray the story to see underneath the first draft.


An X-Ray of A Scream in the Woods

I don’t know about you, but when I write a first draft I don’t put everything into the story. There will be parts I leave out or at least leave vague. For me, a second draft will often see me either merge a couple of characters together, or even split a character out into a couple of others. I will add more details, more twists and background data.

I do the second draft after the x-ray. Almost bullet-point the story again and see that the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone. And all that. Sorry if that song is now running through your mind. The leg bone’s connected to the hip bone. πŸ™‚

As a crime/thriller writer, I need to make sure the ankle bones is not connected to the neck bone. I might start with a plan, but I do deviate from it and might not always get things back on track so that any of my story makes sense. The X-ray after the first draft lets me bring my story back to the planning board and ready myself for the next round.

Do you X-Ray your story at the end of your first draft?



This is myΒ XΒ post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be foundΒ here.

I have an App that lets you take photos with different styles and one of them is X-Ray. Today’s photos are a couple from around the house. Strange how some items look completely different through an X-Ray filter.

An X-Rayed door with all the knots on display

An X-Rayed door with all the knots on display

Our dining table.

Our dining table.

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
This entry was posted in A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to X-Ray your Story

  1. I like those X-ray photos. That’s also a great way to think about checking your manuscripts. I have a first draft sitting and waiting for x-rays right now.

  2. Joanne says:

    Yes, I do but I like your analogy.

  3. This is a great post. Not sure I do exactly that after the first draft, but I have come up with new ideas and move some characters more front and center during a second draft. I’m rally enjoying your blog.

  4. katemsparkes says:

    Heh… “the dreaded X”

    Those pictures are both fascinating and terrifying. I like it!

  5. bronbloxham says:

    The photos look like you’re a member of swat team going in under the cover darkness… very creepy!

  6. Subtlekate says:

    This was something I learned the hard way, Pete. I was prone to put it all in, stuff the thing, but I now see it’s so much easier to fill than to kill.

  7. I try to read my first draft with the same picky eye I have when I read published novels. If I can nitpick what seasoned writers do, I better be able to that for myself as well. πŸ™‚

  8. That’s an interesting way to look at a second draft. But it makes a lot of sense. Good post.

  9. EllaDee says:

    Those x-ray pics are spooky. X-ray is good way of putting it, looking into your story to see if there are any kinks, gaps or misconnections… Of this nature, all I ever write are short stories but I have to take care it flows and connects.

    • Pete Denton says:

      They are spooky. I nearly took an x-ray photo of our cat, but that looked FREAKY!

      I think this suits for all writing. I don’t write much flash fiction or short stories whilst I’m working on novels, but I try them out on them too.

  10. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I have a tendency to edit while drafting. I know people say you shouldn’t, but it works for me. So by the time I finish the “first draft” the beginning is wicked clean, the middle needs work, and the end is a rough draft. πŸ˜‰ I do employ your x-ray method for revisions–I tend to go over it, looking for big picture issues and story flow and plot holes and character inconsistencies. Cool pics!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks. Previously, I used to edit as I write, but the NaNo last August I made sure I tried the other way. No editing, just writing. Jury is still out whether that worked. When I do my second draft of that WIP I’m sure I’ll post about it πŸ™‚

  11. tyroper says:

    Your X-ray photos are cool.

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