6 TOW: Rough Edit

TOW Story Assignment: Rough Edit

  1. Arrange a rough edit of the best elements.
  2. Your rough edit should be shorter than nine minutes.
  3. Post your arranged rough-edits for input from other learners at the TOW Group.
  4. Be thoughtful and specific when you comment on other’s rough-edits. Thoughtfully consider comments about your rough-edit.
  5. Do not start writing narration yet.


Mentor Notes

The first version of a story almost always needs some work and revision. So look, try to finish a first attempt and get it posted somewhere and ask people to listen. I know there is some fear and trepidation about exposing your work-in-progress on a public site, but the intention is for this to be a rather large learning project. You’re guinea pigs, we’re all guinea pigs, we’re all in this together. And there’s always the option of dropping out. You don’t have to do it, but I think it will be worth it if you try.

Your rough draft should be under ten minutes.

I’m guessing that you’ve been working very hard on your story and it’s coming along but there are still things that you don’t like and want to fix but you don’t even know what or where they are. You are overwhelmed, exhausted, you wish you never signed up for this thing, etc.

All of what you are experiencing is normal, and it never goes away or stops being part of the process. Nobody likes this part of the process. We go through it time and again because it’s what it takes to finish the piece. Finishing is important because unfinished stories become zombies in your brain. I won’t go into this now, just be assured that it’s better to finish your story, which you can do if you just keep going.

I highly recommend playing your story for a friend. Have him or her sit where you sit when you are working on the thing. You should stand or sit in another chair in the room. I can’t really explain what happens at this point. It’s something psychological, and something happens to your whole body. You just feel different. Everything shifts a bit. You will see and hear your story in a different way just by having someone else in the room. Plus you can get their feedback. Try it. When you go back to working hard you will have more energy and commitment.

Next comes more edits and revisions. Things need to be cut out, or rearranged, and then re-mixed a bunch of times. No story is good after a first draft. Revision is essential, perhaps the most important thing.

Try not to worry about how your story isn’t as good as you would like it to be. This is exactly how you should feel. It’s why we have people called editors. It’s all part of the process. This is how stories are made.

Try to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to see that something isn’t working because then you can figure out how to fix it. First stories are usually not anywhere near what you would like them to be. Think of it as a learning process, and then you got nothing to lose.

The way it works in the real world is this: You hand in your story on time even though you know it sucks. It’s never as good as you would like, but at a certain point you need to show it to your editor and get some help. Deadlines are usually set to allow for some editing and revision, it’s part of the process. We’re going to do it like this as well.

What we want are good stories, because success, in the end, will depend on the quality of work. Post a first attempt in order to have something to work on and make better.

Go ahead and give it a shot. Part of being a writer or producer involves opening yourself up to humiliation. I wish it were not so but it is, always, this way.

It’s usually very helpful to get feedback from an experienced editor, or editors, before you start refining and polishing a story. That’s why we depend on editors to tell us what’s working and what’s not working and why. So if you know an editor, ask them for help. Most of my stories would have sucked if not for the help of wise and kind editors. I owe them so much.

— Scott Carrier, Mentor, TOW Basics: Multimedia Storytelling