Lately, I’ve accumulated a stack of stories that need rewrites. I like going back over my work to tweak it. I like watching a first, second, or third draft become a finished manuscript. But for one reason or another–it took a while for my agent to get back to me, two of my beta readers were faster than I expected, I snuck playing with a novella in between novels–my balance of new writing to rewriting got out of whack. And soon, I have to hit rewrites hard. Aaargh. Lots of them.
I’m one of those writers who polish as I go. I’ve tried it both ways. I’ve sat my fanny in a chair and written flat-out from beginning to end to let the writing flow. Most of my friends do that. It doesn’t work for me. Why? I’m not that freaking patient. I’ll NEVER be one of those people who edit the same story over and over. I get sick of it after a while. Once the story’s done, I don’t want to take the time to macro and micro-edit. I don’t want to fix word choice, deepen character, add description or internal dialogue, and fix plot problems all at the same time. I know me. Some of it wouldn’t get done. I’d hurry the process, and the finished result would testify to that.
One of the reasons I do plot points–not elaborate–just goal posts to reach in the story–is because I’d clench my fists and cry to the heavens if I went in the wrong direction and had to throw scene after scene away. It’s not because I’m so attached to my writing or think my precious words are too wonderful to pitch–I’ve pitched them plenty of times–but because I’m impatient, and if a little work before I start writing saves me lots of work when I finish a draft, I’d be mad at myself. Not to say I haven’t screwed up when I try new things that I have plotted out. That’s the thing. If I can mess up when I’ve written those scenes on purpose, I can surely mess up even better if I just go with the flow. We each have to find what works for us, and I’ve learned my strengths and weaknesses.
But no muse-assistants come in the middle of the night and polish my manuscripts for me, so it’s time to dig in and get it done. The good news? Most of the micro-editing is finished. That’s why I write one day, then do re-writes for those pages the next day before I start a new scene. For those second day edits, I usually beef up my descriptions, add emotional impact, and smooth out the writing. I try to remember to check for active verbs, think of specific word choices, and anything else that will make the scene glow instead of exist. When I finish each fourth of the manuscript, I usually skim through that fourth again to see how the story flows. But no matter how careful I am, I can’t tell how the pieces fit together, if the pacing works or not, if the tension builds, until the entire manuscript’s finished. And that’s why I give the whole thing to my trusted beta readers. When they return the poor, bleeding pages that seemed brilliant when I wrote them:), then I do the last, final edit. And that’s where I am right now. Time for some tough, manuscript love. Time to whip those pages into shape, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.
Wherever you are in your story, happy writing…or rewriting:)
*Just a reminder that I posted a new, short-short story on my webpage last week. It was a middle-of-the-week post, and I don’t know if people actually read those, so thought I’d mention it again.
*Also–HAPPINESS!!!–my new novel, SPINNERS OF MISFORTUNE, will go online on Aug. 18.
To celebrate, Sia Marion invited me to her blog to do a character interview for Tyr. I’ve never done a character interview before, and I found it to be an interesting experience. I do character wheels for all of my main characters, so it’s not like I learned anything new about him, but the interview made me hear him and see him in a different way. Glad I tried it. http://sia4215.blogspot.com/2014/07/judith-post-is-here-today-come-meet-her.html.
I love questions and comments.
3 thoughts on “Writing–You have to find what works for you”
If the free short story you’re talking about on your website is Dark of the Moon, it blew me away. One of the best things you’ve done!
Thanks! I like to write dark once in a while.