How I Organized The Writing of The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Part 9)
[Other posts in this series can be found here.]
By the time the first rewrite (second draft) was complete, the first half of The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success was in pretty good shape. The major research was complete and the content of the story was in place. There were still lots of notes to self about whether something was in the right place or whether a particular piece of the story should be kept in or edited out, etc.
The Second Rewrite, which was the third draft, was really the final major step in completing The Business of Walt Disney portion of the book. The first part of the book – the business biography – touches on all of the nine business principles, but doesn’t discuss them explicitly. That’s left for the second part of the book.
The Nine Principles section is different in kind from the business biography because it is a series of essays identifying, justifying, and explaining the Nine Principles of Walt Disney’s success. Understanding how the principles served Walt Disney allows one to extrapolate the lessons and apply them to one’s own situation to reap the benefits of the wisdom and business discoveries and lessons of Walt Disney. The anecdotes I collected from those who worked for Walt and notes I wrote related to the principles were inserted into separate MSWord files for each of the Nine Principles, but I was leaving the writing of these chapters to be the final major writing task as a series of structured essays for which the reader would already have the full context of the Walt Disney business story to relate to. In a sense, the Nine Principles was the cashing in of the first part of the book. By the time the reader gets to the Nine Principles of Walt Disney’s Success, they should appear to be “self-evident” and obvious. If this appears to be the case for the reader, then I succeeded at my task in achieving this objective.
The second rewrite was mostly about smoothing out and enhancing the clarity of the writing, removing unnecessary words and shortening long sentences, and cutting entire paragraphs and sections under the advice of Ayn Rand to be relentless in cutting out the extraneous, etc.
To break up each chapter into shorter sections to make it easier on the reader to find places to start and stop, I defined subsections and tried to write appropriate and descriptive sub-headings like “Mickey Mouse Breaks the Sound Barrier,” “There and Back Again: The Safe Return of Ub Iwerks,” and “Animation Fades From the Limelight.”
It was also in this rewrite, with a careful eye to reading the content from a reader’s perspective as well as that of author, that I was able to identify many places where events were excessively isolated and presented non-chronologically. The solution was to reshuffle the content of what was already written and to integrate aspects of a story thread from one place in the narrative to another deemed more appropriate with respect to chronology. The challenge in doing this is to avoid inappropriate fragmentation where something appears in the proper place chronologically but without meaningful context when removed from its place within a larger context. There are many areas where in hindsight I could have done a better job with chronology, but in general I think I was more conscientious in this regard than most other Disney biographers.
The second rewrite also provided another opportunity to read the advanced manuscript with a wider perspective to discover places where aspects of the story may be missing. One specific example that comes to mind pertains to adding some historical background on the changes in labor law put forth by President Roosevelt’s depression-era New Deal policies in the mid-1930s. Including this information about changing social values in the labor market and government attempts aimed to mitigate the harm of the Great Depression helps to set the stage for increased unionization in the animation business and the eventual attempt to unionize animation labor that led to the Disney Studio’s labor strike and strife in 1941.
© 2019, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.
Barry Linetsky is the author of the acclaimed book The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Theme Park Press), and an Honorary Disney History Institute Historian. Barry is a writer, photographer, researcher, and business strategy enabler.