Tag Archives: on writing

An Update

Hello Again,

Whenever I do one of these insane writing challenges, I feel the need to beat myself up about not meeting the self imposed rules that are, often, brutally unfair.

That being said, I am going to say that as a result of this challenge (one blog entry, one five hundred word story per day) I do feel that I’m finally rebuilding writing muscles I used to have, but I’ve now let atrophy.

Atrophy.

That word seems pretty goddamn pretentious.

I think it’s important to challenge yourself as a writer, but I also think it’s important not to let the failure of those challenges discourage you. Things like NANOWRIMO are meant to be hard, meant to be tough and are meant to push you passed limits. The only way you grow stronger is to test yourself, constantly. If you just do the same thing, in and out, day in and day out, you will never get better, you’ll just plateau.

If you fail, keep going and try and do better next time. You won’t win every race, won’t win every match. The most important thing is that you pick yourself up and you keep going.

The people who persist are the people who are more likely to succeed, even in light of failure.

Persistence is what matters, even over basic talent. If you have basic talent, but don’t have the ability to persevere, you will not succeed. Always keep battering against the wall, always keep fighting. And learn from the people who have broken through.

I have a story to write.

And I know you do too.

-D-

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Paring It Down

For most people, editing is about excising. You trim out all of those unnecessary words and details and phrases and commas. You said too much. You described too much. You gave him too much to say. Stephen King even comes up with a basic formula for editing your story that goes as follows:

First Draft – Ten Percent= Second Draft

It’s one of the more difficult challenges for most writers because you have to determine what’s actually crap and what’s actually good, what actually helps the story and what hurts it. Even if that paragraph is utterly brilliant in terms of language and artistry and characterization, it’s unnecessary. And that’s the key word: unnecessary. Pare it down, clip it out, get rid of it, especially it doesn’t help the story go forward.

I don’t have that problem so much. Yes, I do clip out my fair share of badly used and superfluous words, but, for the most part, that’s not my problem. My problem is my first draft is always anemic and pared down already to the point that the story is skeletal. I’m an impatient reader and viewer and I’ll rail against authors who spend their sweet time getting where I want to be going. And when I write, I do the same thing. Why show this? The reader understands! Why show that? The reader can figure it out.

My murder mystery looks like the following: The body is found. The detective looks at the body. Ah-ha! He says. He captures the killer. Fin

I ignore little things, insignificant things like: personalizing the victim, describing the investigation, adding in a second murder to really kick it up a notch. I know the tropes and the cliches and the tools and the frameworks; I just choose not to utilize any of them because I want to go from A to B in the fewest number of steps.

So my editing process ends up being the exact opposite of Mr. King’s advice. I fatten. I add. I write more pages and boost the word count way up and flesh it out and grow it out. It’s the process of adding flesh to a skeleton. For me and for writers like me, it’s more:

First Draft + Twenty Percent = Second Draft

What about you? How does editing work for you? What do you have to do after completing that first draft?

-D-

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics