I first really thought about the process of Alchemy when a group of avid Harry Potter fans was discussing what we thought would happen in the 6th and 7th books of the series. Alchemy, is of course the process by which the Sorcerer's Stone is made in the first book: a stone said to be able to turn any metal to gold, and produce the elixir of life which can make the drinker immortal.
Alchemy, in brief
Disclaimer: If you want the LONG version, Wikipedia has quite the page. My version is FAR simpler and stems out of how we talked about it in those Harry Potter discussions... My memory stinks, so surely I will get some of this wrong and skip giant chunks--in fact most of it, really, but it still fits what I'm trying to say.
|The ideal man through the process of alchemy|
Alchemy as a 'science' really petered out in the 16th century (probably as real science gained a little ground) but as a spiritual journey, the idea lasted longer, and it makes sense—it is about being fully rounded and in balance.
So if the stone that starts black, has to go through white and red to reach gold, the STORY may very well have a similar process to achieve gold.
The black first draft: This has the basic ingredients—you know where it goes and and have hammered out the main thing of it.
The first step is to go through and CLARIFY—turn it white by streamlining the plot, removing the big extras, fill in plot holes, remove any confusion. Do you have the STORY JUST RIGHT?
The next step is to light it on fire (red) (not literally) by pushing at the pacing, rewording for power and sparkle... have you SAID IT ALL in the RIGHT WORDS?
And finally POLISH it to shiny gold—typos, spelling, grammar, punctuation... all those pesky details.
Now I wish I could tell you this makes a tale ACTUALLY done, but honestly, what this makes a tale is ready for feedback—you are probably going to have to do all these steps again... and again... but I love looking at each round of editing this way.