Does anyone else have this problem?

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The44
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Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by The44 » September 20th, 2012, 10:18 pm

I am a young writer, which means I go to college, so I'm incredibly busy. I can slip in a bit writing whenever I have a spare moment or two, but editing... It's just that when I edit, I want stable, normal hours for several days in a row in order to make any progress. Is there any way anyone has figured to do editing ad hoc and piecemeal, or will I just have to wait until the next substantial break to get my novel moving again?
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HillaryJ
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by HillaryJ » September 20th, 2012, 10:31 pm

Ah. This old thing.

I perform triage prior to editing. I take my own concerns and readers', distill them and make a list, then break the list into small, manageable parts. Spot or scene fixes come first, and these can take between 2 and 30 minutes at a time to figure out. Consistency and plot thread issues usually require more time, since multiple sections have to be adjusted depending on what's changed, so I'll concentrate on one at a time.

While my preference would be a couple of weeks holed up somewhere with electricity but no distractions, that never happens. By breaking editing down into smaller parts, editing can be integrated into busy lives.

Good luck!
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by Amanda Elizabeth » September 21st, 2012, 2:38 am

I have two jobs, one I go to twice a day: 7-9, 10-2 and 3-6. Technically I don't have any days off, but Monday I can get by with only the 10-2. I block off 8pm-11pm and give myself a certain part to edit (now I can edit chapters at a time because I'm down to minor edits). This works for me mainly because I CAN'T sit for days and edit -- I'll go postal.

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polymath
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by polymath » September 21st, 2012, 10:44 am

Editing or reworking? Experienced writers' process begins with a writing plan, progresses to draft writing, on to reworking, then to editing for mechanical style.

Reworking mostly involves rewriting and revision for audience accessibility and appeal. Most important for reworking is recasting for voice and craft development. Voice, in the sense of narrative distance, recasts for audience reading and comprehension ease, as does craft. Craft development mainly focuses on structural features: plot. Narrative distance is the degree of separation between narrator and character voices. One reworking pass might examine how close narrative distance is for character voices. Readers prefer close narrative distance. Close narrative distance develops from immediate, intimate, individual access to character sensations and thoughts in the moment and place of the dramatic action. Character attitude is also a feature of voice, what posistion or standing does a character take toward subjects and topics.

I'm a later day nontraditional student, in graduate school, and have little time for discretionary writing. Fortunately, I'm in writing study coursework. So I'm writing most of the time for homework, when I'm not reading for homework. I'm working on writing skills development: audience accessibility and appeal, voice or expression, craft or organization and content. And to a degree, mechanical style: grammar, punctuation, spelling, and such.

My writing presently is for purposes of partial fulfillment of degree requirements. I'm not at present writing for publication. Too much of my audience at present has particular expectations that are challenging to meet or exceed. In a few months, I'll get back to writing what I want to write.

That latter is on point for writing, a recent realization I've come to. Creative writing for publication is not about writing for one's desire or for an audience. It is about writing for one's desrire and for an audience.

Anyway, my process for accommodating my busy busy schedule, burdened with deadlines and due dates, work work, school work, home work, and activities of daily living demands, is to establish a plan of action, use the plan to incrementally plan, draft, and rework, selecting and developing specific strategies for specific parts of the process, and implementing them in alloted, planned times. At every moment, waking or sleeping, doing the heavy lifting through mental composition and trial and error. When I do sit down to plan, draft, or rework on the page, I have a solid idea where I'm going. Less time spent actually working, more productive. I live, eat, sleep writing in a life of the mind.
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by Sommer Leigh » September 21st, 2012, 12:44 pm

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but the way I write and edit is this: I do not write in one file. Each chapter has a separate document (Named 1.0 or 1.1 or 2.3 or whatever. First number is chapter, second number is revision number). I work by chapter. While, of course, some editing requires a bigger rework across several chapters, I find keeping it broken down this way helps me keep everything straight in my head, helps me break up the work in chunks, and helps me remember that a chapter is a thing of its own. It has to have a micro-novel of elements in its confines.

The other thing which is harder to swallow, is that you're going to have to train yourself to get over this hang-up or it will be a roadblock to your progress. You sit down and edit for 10-50 minutes even if it's horrible and your brain fights the barrier of time, do it anyway. Even if you get almost nothing done. Do it anyway. And eventually your brain will stop fighting it and let you work the way you want to work.
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The44
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by The44 » September 23rd, 2012, 3:16 am

Great advice all. Thanks. When this month ends and I drop back down to merely lethally busy, I shall definitely try these methods. Here's the second problem with my current WIP. Its been through a rough draft and an edit. I had 2 beta readers peruse it recently. They both got about a third through it. One of them really loved it, told me it was Douglas Adams-y. The other did not get the humor. ironically, the one who didn't know me very well understood my work better than someone who's known me most of my life, but that's something else.
So, to the gist. The one who didn't get it got it on a 'cold read.' I told him nothing so that I could get a pure reaction from him. The other knew it was a bit of a satire because I told him. As I go through what is hopefully the last edit before I start shopping it around, I ask you this from your own personal experience: should I edit my writing to make the humor more obvious, or should I assume that merely prior notification to a reader in some form is sufficient? Specifically, in mind to a query/partial situation. Thanks!
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polymath
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by polymath » September 23rd, 2012, 11:11 am

Prior notification. My concern with that one relates to a writing principle: If it's not on the page, it needs to be. If it's not in the main text, then any other discourse may be overlooked, might summarize the action in a way that spoils tension and plot, and holds readers' hands a bit too artlessly for the purpose. And readers shouldn't have to write a narrative's story while reading. That's a writer's job. Put it on the page.

Accessibility to humor or any quality of a narrative: plot, literal meaning, figurative meaning, theme, etc. A writer's creative vision begins in the mind. Much of it doesn't make it onto the page because the writer's imagination fills in gaps and gets used to including and understanding missing content, while drafting and reworking, that a reader doesn't have access to and either rejects a narrative or projects misinformation onto it.

In order to work around that shortcoming, a best practice is to exceed a minimum degree. If one hundred percent is the goal, one hundred ten percent or more needs to be on the page. Yes, exaggerate humor and such to a degree, at least in an opening until readers learn how to read it and can access it.

Four meta areas for writing and in this order for readers' sakes: 1, audience accessibility and appeal; 2, expression or voice; 3, organization and content or craft; 4, mechanical style: grammar and punctuation and spelling and such. Delivering humor relies on writer facility with 1 through 3.
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by bcomet » September 25th, 2012, 2:58 am

Not certain if this will help you, but... in the past, for me anyway, whether working out a challenging piece of a novel or reworking, either way, when I've worked with a coach or a coach-partner (i.e., you support each other in the same fashion, and, specifically, in my case, I have worked it out as someone -even minimally- to report to each day of the week and, at the end of week, to exchange a longer report to on *process* so that that is not lost in the efforting either) that amazing / and/or realizable results can occur, conquering such issues that, all alone, can be daunting. (I can be PMed more about this if there is an interest; I so believe in this as an effective process,especially through difficult phases.)

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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by LizV » October 2nd, 2012, 12:36 pm

The44 wrote:So, to the gist. The one who didn't get it got it on a 'cold read.' I told him nothing so that I could get a pure reaction from him. The other knew it was a bit of a satire because I told him. As I go through what is hopefully the last edit before I start shopping it around, I ask you this from your own personal experience: should I edit my writing to make the humor more obvious, or should I assume that merely prior notification to a reader in some form is sufficient? Specifically, in mind to a query/partial situation. Thanks!
From my own personal experience: Two readers is not a big enough sample size, frankly. It might be that your humor isn't obvious enough, or it might simply be that the reader who didn't get it, just didn't get it. Not every book works for every reader, and humor's the hardest to target of all. If possible, I'd run it past a few more people, and make sure they're people who like similar books -- if you're aiming for "Douglas Adams-y", make sure you're getting test-readers who like Douglas Adams and similar authors.

Now, if you get three or four readers, all of whom like the kind of thing you're trying to do, who don't get it -- then you know you've got some revising to do.

As for prior notification -- there's nothing wrong, IMO, with giving people a head's-up that this is humorous SF (or humorous whatever). Even the same reader isn't always in the mood for the same material, and genre expectations can play a huge part in whether someone likes a book. (Think of it as biting into what you think is a rich chocolate brownie only to find it's a juicy steak -- you might like steak a lot, but if you're expecting brownie, it's just not going to taste right.) But I wouldn't give them more than a genre category; that would be leading your witness.

The44
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by The44 » October 8th, 2012, 4:17 pm

LizV wrote:
The44 wrote:So, to the gist. The one who didn't get it got it on a 'cold read.' I told him nothing so that I could get a pure reaction from him. The other knew it was a bit of a satire because I told him. As I go through what is hopefully the last edit before I start shopping it around, I ask you this from your own personal experience: should I edit my writing to make the humor more obvious, or should I assume that merely prior notification to a reader in some form is sufficient? Specifically, in mind to a query/partial situation. Thanks!
From my own personal experience: Two readers is not a big enough sample size, frankly. It might be that your humor isn't obvious enough, or it might simply be that the reader who didn't get it, just didn't get it. Not every book works for every reader, and humor's the hardest to target of all. If possible, I'd run it past a few more people, and make sure they're people who like similar books -- if you're aiming for "Douglas Adams-y", make sure you're getting test-readers who like Douglas Adams and similar authors.

Now, if you get three or four readers, all of whom like the kind of thing you're trying to do, who don't get it -- then you know you've got some revising to do.

As for prior notification -- there's nothing wrong, IMO, with giving people a head's-up that this is humorous SF (or humorous whatever). Even the same reader isn't always in the mood for the same material, and genre expectations can play a huge part in whether someone likes a book. (Think of it as biting into what you think is a rich chocolate brownie only to find it's a juicy steak -- you might like steak a lot, but if you're expecting brownie, it's just not going to taste right.) But I wouldn't give them more than a genre category; that would be leading your witness.
Thanks for the feedback!

Two was all that I could get (Believe me, I tried. Everyone's too busy, not just writers). You're preaching to the choir here.

Oh, and btw, I love your steak/brownie metaphor.
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LizV
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by LizV » October 9th, 2012, 1:42 pm

The44 wrote:Two was all that I could get (Believe me, I tried. Everyone's too busy, not just writers). You're preaching to the choir here.
I hear ya on that! I'm down to one semi-reliable reader myself. Between people who'll actually do the reading, and people who can and will give useful feedback, it's an awfully shallow selection pool.

:D

The44
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by The44 » October 31st, 2012, 11:18 pm

I know right? and that time you spend trying to deepen the pool is time not spent writing :shock:
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by Francine » November 10th, 2012, 2:16 pm

Can't you dedicate some time, for example, during your weekends for edinting? it'll be like a culmination of your writing week. :)
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Nicole R
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by Nicole R » November 12th, 2012, 12:21 pm

Ugh, finding editing time (and good crit partners) is definitely tricky. Sommer's advice about training your brain is spot on! I've found that I can edit day-to-day in only a few minutes, as long as I look down the road and find a significant chunk of time where I can take a deeper look at the overall draft. For example, I might try to edit a chapter a week between March and May, with the idea that when summer hits I'll take a weekend to really review all those edits with a closer eye.

For reader insights, have you tried giving people smaller sections of your book? A single chapter or even a few pages is much easier for folks to digest in a busy schedule than reviewing the entire novel, but it still gives you an indication of their reaction.

Good luck!

The44
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Re: Does anyone else have this problem?

Post by The44 » November 20th, 2012, 6:05 pm

Francine wrote:Can't you dedicate some time, for example, during your weekends for edinting? it'll be like a culmination of your writing week. :)
I'll have to try that. Right now, the only time I have is late at night, which is, as I've said, not ideal for editing. I'm pretty much committed to devoting a lot of my winter break time to it.
Nicole R wrote:Ugh, finding editing time (and good crit partners) is definitely tricky. Sommer's advice about training your brain is spot on! I've found that I can edit day-to-day in only a few minutes, as long as I look down the road and find a significant chunk of time where I can take a deeper look at the overall draft. For example, I might try to edit a chapter a week between March and May, with the idea that when summer hits I'll take a weekend to really review all those edits with a closer eye.

For reader insights, have you tried giving people smaller sections of your book? A single chapter or even a few pages is much easier for folks to digest in a busy schedule than reviewing the entire novel, but it still gives you an indication of their reaction.

Good luck!
Yeah, I really wish I'd written the novel the way she suggested. Breaking it up into chapters would have saved a lot of headaches.
Part of the reason this is so daunting is that when I reviewed my novel, and took into consideration what feedback I could get, this will be a fairly significant and painful edit. I'm under the suggested word count, and my main character is a underdeveloped. Plus, I know I need to rework my middle to increase tension, and I have a few logic holes that I need to close. :-(
But hey, all writing is blood, sweat, and tears anyway. Why should editing it be any different?
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