How do you write?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
User avatar
oldhousejunkie
Posts: 250
Joined: March 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

How do you write?

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 6th, 2010, 3:09 pm

While I have been working on my MS for ten years, I have just now ventured into the world of writing forums. Being exposed to other writers and their quirks has been great, but one thing I have noticed is that a lot of writers have multiple drafts of their MS.

I don't and have begun to wonder if I am doomed to failure as a result. I generally write, go back and read, and then re-write to tweak things or to achieve the effect that I'm looking for. I have one completed draft of my MS, but it has been revised multiple times throughout the writing process; that's why I have been preparing my query and synopsis. I believe with a few tweaks, it will be ready. I just can't see myself going through four and five drafts of this MS. Obviously, when I do send it out, and if I receive requests for partials or fulls, but don't get anywhere, then a re-write will be considered.

So how do you write? Is there anyone else out there who writes like me? If not, please tell me that I have not labored in vain for ten years!

User avatar
AMSchilling
Posts: 90
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 1:05 pm
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by AMSchilling » September 6th, 2010, 3:14 pm

As Douglas Adams said, "Don't Panic!" I think everyone just has a slightly different approach. I tend to be the type who writes garbage for a first draft, just to get it all down, and then lets the perfectionist take over which results in about 7 full revisions of the MS. That doesn't mean it's the "right" way to do it. It's just what worked for me.

Some people do better writing the first draft as perfectly as they can, which results in fewer edits down the road. What's important is what works for YOU.
-Amy

"Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." - Stephen King

http://www.amschilling.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/AM-Schill ... 9869525150

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by Quill » September 6th, 2010, 3:29 pm

When I finish a draft, which for me means going through it page by page consecutively (not jumping around), I make a copy of it, rename it (Draft 2, Draft 3, etc), and then start through it again. That way I can rewrite boldly, without worrying that I can't go back and grab a previous version of a section if I mess up.

I'm up to my fifth draft on my WIP, anticipating a total of nine before querying.

Down the well
Posts: 516
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by Down the well » September 6th, 2010, 3:41 pm

I'm probably more like you are. I have one main draft that I continually revise. But I keep everything I cut in a dump file. I have several old openings, an original ending, and some very muddled middles all stuffed in a dump file together in case I ever decide that they really weren't that bad (though they really are). I'm the cut and paste queen when it comes to editing. :)

User avatar
oldhousejunkie
Posts: 250
Joined: March 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 6th, 2010, 3:43 pm

Down the well wrote: I'm the cut and paste queen when it comes to editing. :)
Amen sister! And I've got to organize my files...I have bits and pieces saved, and then multiple edits to the same section of the MS. It's getting very confusing!

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by dios4vida » September 6th, 2010, 7:48 pm

I write the same as you. I don't do a full rewrite with each revision. Instead I keep editing, fixing, going over, tweaking, etc. Every time I finish a full once-through of the entire novel, I consider that a "draft." Finish writing - first draft. Go through and fix things - second draft. Go through and fix the fixes - third draft. I think it's more of a difference of terminology rather than a truly, completely different way of working. I would definitely say that you haven't wasted your years of labor, though. Each word written is progress, and progress is always a good thing. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

Ermo
Posts: 111
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 12:22 pm
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by Ermo » September 17th, 2010, 11:56 am

I agree with dios4vida. That's exactly how I write. Although I will say that I am pretty meticulous with my first draft and further drafts usually entail cleaning up and then adding/subtracting scenese. I feel like my prose, though, is pretty tight the first time I do it.

User avatar
sierramcconnell
Posts: 670
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 pm
Location: BG, KY
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by sierramcconnell » September 17th, 2010, 9:38 pm

I am, what I call, a spontaneous writer. I get an idea and I go with it until the end, not knowing what the hell is going to come out.

That is my first draft.

Then I go through it, think "what was I on" and start to take out what I like. I add to it. I build from it. I have characters and ideas. I start using the "101 questions you should be able to answer about your character sheet" and I start using the characters in my daily exercises. I start asking questions and talking to them.

I start building and researching.

Here comes second draft.

This usually takes a while.

Drafts three and four come about from endless tweaks. These will go to betas. They catch anything from grammar to "uhm, you explained this twice" "this doesn't make sense" "what about this guy" and continuity. I also catch things as I go along.

Here is fifth draft.

This one is very shiny. But it needs more work. I find a lot of crap is missing. I go through and add it.

Sixth draft is beautiful, but it misses a few things, needs final touches and those things that I added to be tweaked. Like the continuity errors I fixed to flow better, and the things I fixed before to be fixed again. Take things out that might help word count. Take things out that might help flow.

I have a horrible knack of saying, "He took a breath" and "his lips twitched" and "he breathed" and such. Those had to go.

SEVENTH DRAFT is hopefully the one.

It's what I'm adding LIFE to. Where I have seen that horrible lack of characterization that some rotten other beta told me to chop for word count. It's where I took out a lot of description and put in that thing we call 'telling'. So I'm adding it back.

But each one is saved under a different name and each one is printed out and edited in long hand. I do that because I tend to auto-correct more with the computer, less with paper.

One reason I like multiple copies, is so I can go back and look at what God forsaken mess I had before, and so I can remember some of the hilarity I had before as well. There were good parts as well.

On my next book, I actually have a plan. My problem with plans?

I tend to write like this:

It was a very dark night...
...and then this happened and this and then he did this and then the end.

I skip over all the detail because I'm in such a hurry to get to the good bits. We'll see how it goes.
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by Quill » September 18th, 2010, 11:12 am

Wow, sierramcconnell, you described exactly how my current project has gone and is going.

Next one I'm planning to do more upfront work. An outline and all that.

User avatar
sierramcconnell
Posts: 670
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 pm
Location: BG, KY
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by sierramcconnell » September 18th, 2010, 2:39 pm

That's how I hope to go but I dunno. As I said, I've never done great with outlines. XD We'll see, we'll see. :3
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

User avatar
J. T. SHEA
Moderator
Posts: 498
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 1:55 pm
Location: IRELAND
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 18th, 2010, 5:56 pm

Depends what they mean by a ‘draft’. What you call rereads and rewrites some would call drafts. I write like you, Oldhousejunkie, nominally only one draft, but any given sentence may have been rewritten half a dozen times over the years.

I’m more planner than pantser. My elaborate notes may take the place of some writers’ discursive first drafts. Don’t over-compare with other writers.

User avatar
oldhousejunkie
Posts: 250
Joined: March 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by oldhousejunkie » September 22nd, 2010, 1:10 pm

SierraMcConnell,
I totally feel you on the skipping to get to the good bits. That's where I am now. My beta told me that I lost a good chance for character development because I skipped forward. So now I'm back and re-writing those parts.

The reason that I got so insecure was that one of my betas asked me what draft my MS was, and seemed to question the fact that I was doing a little re-writing while also writing my query. It threw me for a loop, and made me question myself.

But my confidence has been re-affirmed thanks to you all! :-)

User avatar
sierramcconnell
Posts: 670
Joined: August 23rd, 2010, 10:28 pm
Location: BG, KY
Contact:

Re: How do you write?

Post by sierramcconnell » September 22nd, 2010, 1:23 pm

One of my best things for character development-which is why I mention it so so much-is carrying your muse with you. "Pocket-musing" is one of the best things you can do. Carry a pack of notecards if you must, or one of those tiny notebooks.

When you're in the shower, pretend that you're that character. How would they shower? Ask them questions.
Brush your teeth with them, paint with them, eat with them, and go outside with them and just live.
When you're at the grocery, even for books that don't have groceries, ask them how they shop or what they used to shop for.

You find the oddest quirks in them when you do. "I hate apples" or "I love corn flakes because I used to eat this as a child". Things that you would never have found just writing. Sure that snippet might not get in the book, but you learn that a hardcore killer isn't as hard as you thought because "note: he loves going to the park to watch the children, because they can't see the evil lurking in him".

I also recommend "muse dolls". Be it in the form of what I have (BJDs, which can take up your time and money, but are very good when you can do a posed photostory to act out a scene) or just some raggity doll in the form of your character that you can throw at the wall when they're being bad. I can't tell you how good it feels to take a character up by the leg and shake it, threatening, "Carmine, I swear to God if you don't tell me why you did this I'm going to spank you!"

Even if it doesn't give you the answer, it gives you power. And it feels nice. :3
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 29 guests