Author Topic: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference  (Read 1570 times)

Eugene Lloyd MacRae

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Gerri Attrick

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 04:41:46 AM »
Aarggh! Video alert! Video alert!

Actually, I will watch this. Iíve read Deanís book by the same name and enjoyed it, even if, by and large, the method ainít for me.
 
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Eugene Lloyd MacRae

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018, 06:31:04 AM »
Aarggh! Video alert! Video alert!

Actually, I will watch this. Iíve read Deanís book by the same name and enjoyed it, even if, by and large, the method ainít for me.
Funny how different things work for different people - I have over 50 books now between my own & a pen name since I started this method in the spring of 2012. And itís the only method that works for me - I get bored with an outline when it comes to fiction. So do my cats - they tell me to stop it.
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heyb

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2018, 06:34:44 AM »
Brilliant. Thanks for posting this. I agree with him. Loved the salty questioners at the end too, would have been great to see a lengthier Q & A with Dean for sure. He ended it just when it was getting good.
 

munboy

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2018, 06:36:30 AM »
There are a lot of problems using his method will cause, especially for new writers. But I guess if it works for, then that's great.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 08:45:58 AM »
Now I understand what he means by "writing into the dark." It's what I do. The joy of discovery as the story unfolds is the reason I'm willing to keep writing. If I knew what would come next, I'd be bored, and so would a reader. Cycling back to fix stuff after I've had a new idea is usually what I do once I reach the end, but I can see how doing it daily warms him up to keep on with the story and smooths out what has gone before. 
 

She-la-te-da

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2018, 11:47:15 PM »
There are a lot of problems using his method will cause, especially for new writers. But I guess if it works for, then that's great.

Like what? Because from what I read from all sorts of writers, every method has problems for someone. No one has said everyone has to do this, but it works for many of us. I've tried and tried to outline, and it causes a lot of problems for me. My feeling is, people should try any kind of way to write, find what works for them, and then be allowed to do it without people telling them it's wrong or it's going to ruin their writing, or whatever. It's sort of the same pointless argument about "fast" writing vs "slow" writing.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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sandree

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2018, 05:54:28 AM »
Thanks for the video - I donít like videos either but this one was worth watching. This is pretty much how Iím writing, though Iím doing a lot more editing - my first novel and I had a steep learning curve so I needed to go back over the whole thing several times. But in principle, I think this method is what works best for me. It was nice to hear that validated and I like the idea of scribbling an outline after writing a chunk of it... Not sure I will ever get to the point of no rewrites but otherwise - great!
 

munboy

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2018, 08:14:22 AM »
There are a lot of problems using his method will cause, especially for new writers. But I guess if it works for, then that's great.

Like what? Because from what I read from all sorts of writers, every method has problems for someone. No one has said everyone has to do this, but it works for many of us. I've tried and tried to outline, and it causes a lot of problems for me. My feeling is, people should try any kind of way to write, find what works for them, and then be allowed to do it without people telling them it's wrong or it's going to ruin their writing, or whatever. It's sort of the same pointless argument about "fast" writing vs "slow" writing.

Of course there's no perfect writing method because everybody works differently. But, the big suggest that stood out to me that I completely disagree with is "write the perfect first draft". For beginning writers, that's a huge trap to fall into. They could spend years writing and rewriting and rewriting the first part of their book and never actually finish. The best thing for a new writer to do is actually finish a book. If you've been writing for 30 years like him, that is a workable method, but I would never suggest a new writer to write a perfect first draft. I've only been writing to publish for 3 years but I've met a lot of beginning writers at cons who tell me they never finish anything because it's never good enough. I fell into that trap when I was writing the first book I intended to publish. It took me nearly 3 years to finish because i was never happy with it. I kept going back and rewriting the first quarter of the book over and over. It wasn't until I finished the first draft that everything became clearer. A light switched on and a few revisions cleaned up the book to the point I felt good enough to invest my own money into publishing it.

On that same idea, another thing he said that rubbed me the wrong way is to write that first draft, put it out there and forget about it because he doesn't care about them. That just...baffles me. It tells me he writes to make money and for no other reason. I write for the creative process and I want to put the best possible product that my skills allow out into the world. It usually takes a revision or two to fill in plot holes, build characters, foreshadow, and other things that really round out a story.

To be honest, I couldn't watch the whole thing. It just seemed like one person's rant against traditional publishing.  :dizzy
 

angelapepper

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2018, 08:34:29 AM »
The part about creating a reverse outline as you go is very sensible.

His method is not for me, but I may recommend his book to some of the people I know who have a hard time finishing books.

At a recent local meeting of writers, we shared our Meyers Briggs types, and it was hilarious how evenly we were divided, and how similar the approaches of people with the same types were. No wonder there is no single approach that works for everyone!

I loved what he said about not writing to the outline and not doing the rewrites and nobody noticing. LOL. I believe it. When I hear about people doing major rewrites on books at their agent's request and then not selling the book... ugh!
 

sandree

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2018, 09:26:13 AM »
Do you remember the breakdown of the Meyers Briggs types and writing styles? I would be interested in hearing about that. Iím an INFJ, I think - anyway - one of the less common types. I definitely write (and live) in a more intuitive way - so pantsing makes sense...
 

LilyBLily

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2018, 09:29:42 AM »
The part about creating a reverse outline as you go is very sensible.

His method is not for me, but I may recommend his book to some of the people I know who have a hard time finishing books.

At a recent local meeting of writers, we shared our Meyers Briggs types, and it was hilarious how evenly we were divided, and how similar the approaches of people with the same types were. No wonder there is no single approach that works for everyone!

I loved what he said about not writing to the outline and not doing the rewrites and nobody noticing. LOL. I believe it. When I hear about people doing major rewrites on books at their agent's request and then not selling the book... ugh!

Having been on the other side of that game as an editor, I might as well tell you that editors do notice when the changes haven't been made, just as we notice when the queries aren't answered. Editors are practical, though. We do our best to point you in the right direction to save yourself from embarrassment, but there comes a moment when an editor has to bag it and let the book stand or fall on whatever merit it has. Nobody reads a book and says, "The editor should have stopped the author from killing off that character," or whatever. The blame for substantive issues falls on the author. Typos can always be blamed on proofreaders, but malapropisms are the author's fault most of the time, too. If an author cannot be bothered to make a complete effort to produce the best quality product s/he possibly can, it's going to hurt the author and no one else.

I also think writing a book and forgetting it instantly is another way of saying you don't care about the story or the reader in the slightest. The authors whom readers love tend to bleed on the page, maybe a little, maybe a lot. They don't--okay, I won't go scatological. But you get the idea.

 
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123mlh

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2018, 10:55:21 AM »
Do you remember the breakdown of the Meyers Briggs types and writing styles? I would be interested in hearing about that. Iím an INFJ, I think - anyway - one of the less common types. I definitely write (and live) in a more intuitive way - so pantsing makes sense...

If you're interested in exploring how Meyers Briggs type impacts writing, editing, etc. then I'd highly recommend Becca Syme's Write Better-Faster class: https://app.ruzuku.com/courses/30186/about

It uses Meyers-Briggs and DISC to give advice on all aspects of writing. It was eye-opening for me. (And in that class when I took it about 80% of us were either INFP or INFJ. It seems to be a common type for writers.)
 
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angelapepper

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2018, 11:21:32 AM »
Do you remember the breakdown of the Meyers Briggs types and writing styles? I would be interested in hearing about that. Iím an INFJ, I think - anyway - one of the less common types. I definitely write (and live) in a more intuitive way - so pantsing makes sense...

Teehee! I do know how the types break down, but I didn't dare say it, lest I trigger the usual outrage of pantsers vs outliners.

INFJ is extremely common in groups of writers, unlike in the regular population. That's what I am, so it's practically a cliche that I'm a writer. My husband is INTJ, like the majority of sci-fi/fantasy writers.

I can write however I decide to write, so I'm a flexitarian. :-)  I think the real downfall of writers is when they don't do the 1-2 things that deep down they know they should be doing to augment their personal writing style. Whenever I talk to people who aren't meeting their goals, they know exactly why it isn't coming together.

There's a good book on Amazon about the INFJ writer that I've read a few times. It covers a couple of similar types as well.
ETA LINK: https://www.amazon.com/INFJ-Writer-Cracking-Creative-Genius-ebook/dp/B01FG8TQIW/
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 11:44:23 AM by angelapepper »
 
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sandree

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2018, 11:35:49 AM »
Cool! I bought the Amazon book - sounds fascinating...
 
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heyb

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2018, 12:47:19 PM »
Do you remember the breakdown of the Meyers Briggs types and writing styles? I would be interested in hearing about that. Iím an INFJ, I think - anyway - one of the less common types. I definitely write (and live) in a more intuitive way - so pantsing makes sense...

Teehee! I do know how the types break down, but I didn't dare say it, lest I trigger the usual outrage of pantsers vs outliners.

INFJ is extremely common in groups of writers, unlike in the regular population. That's what I am, so it's practically a cliche that I'm a writer. My husband is INTJ, like the majority of sci-fi/fantasy writers.

I can write however I decide to write, so I'm a flexitarian. :-)  I think the real downfall of writers is when they don't do the 1-2 things that deep down they know they should be doing to augment their personal writing style. Whenever I talk to people who aren't meeting their goals, they know exactly why it isn't coming together.

There's a good book on Amazon about the INFJ writer that I've read a few times. It covers a couple of similar types as well.
ETA LINK: https://www.amazon.com/INFJ-Writer-Cracking-Creative-Genius-ebook/dp/B01FG8TQIW/

I'm INFP, is there a particular genre that type usually writes that you're aware of? You've got me curious.
 

Tom Wood

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2018, 01:10:35 PM »
Meyers Briggs
Astrology
I Ching
Feng Shui
Tarot
Religion

IMO, the value of these thought systems is based in an attempt to create an approach to the irrational with a mindful attitude. I think that the initial concept was to create a structured method that could be used to de-focus the rational mind and consider other possibilities. I think they are all attempts to induce intuitive thinking by bringing into focus a particular point of view. None of them have predictive abilities, IMO.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 01:13:04 PM by Tom Wood »
 

angelapepper

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2018, 02:08:19 PM »
I'm INFP, is there a particular genre that type usually writes that you're aware of? You've got me curious.

I'm sure that genre varies a lot by person, but the common theme I see is they have to believe strongly in a project to see it through. They might not be as oriented to writing to market as other types.

These are broad strokes, YMMV. I know a few ladies who are INFP, and they like writing literary women's fiction.

We could do some sort of survey here!

MB Type: INFJ
Genre: Mystery
Writing Method: Outline, 2 drafts
Annual novel output: 6
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 02:11:16 PM by angelapepper »
 

Jeff Tanyard

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2018, 02:48:48 PM »

We could do some sort of survey here!

MB Type: INFJ
Genre: Mystery
Writing Method: Outline, 2 drafts
Annual novel output: 6


INTJ here, according to the 16personalities website's test. 

Genre:  I write science fiction, but my first love is fantasy.
Method:  Outlining.  More like a detailed synopsis, actually.  Three drafts and a proofreading pass.
Output:  About 1.5 novels per year, I guess.  (Started outlining the trilogy in the fall of 2014, and I'll be publishing the third book of the current series before long.)  I hate the slowness of my pace.  I can write the first draft fairly fast.  It's the rest that takes forever.
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Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy (some day) | Author Website
 

heyb

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2018, 07:43:58 PM »
Meyers Briggs
Astrology
I Ching
Feng Shui
Tarot
Religion

IMO, the value of these thought systems is based in an attempt to create an approach to the irrational with a mindful attitude. I think that the initial concept was to create a structured method that could be used to de-focus the rational mind and consider other possibilities. I think they are all attempts to induce intuitive thinking by bringing into focus a particular point of view. None of them have predictive abilities, IMO.

Yeah, but some of that stuff is fun. I don't take it too seriously, I just find it interesting to think about and play around with.

I'm INFP, is there a particular genre that type usually writes that you're aware of? You've got me curious.

I'm sure that genre varies a lot by person, but the common theme I see is they have to believe strongly in a project to see it through. They might not be as oriented to writing to market as other types.

These are broad strokes, YMMV. I know a few ladies who are INFP, and they like writing literary women's fiction.

We could do some sort of survey here!

MB Type: INFJ
Genre: Mystery
Writing Method: Outline, 2 drafts
Annual novel output: 6

Cool, I'll play...

MB Type: INFP
Genre: Crime, Adventure, Parody, and Post-Apoc
Method: Outline, 1 draft
Annual novel output: 6
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2018, 08:50:58 PM »
Of course there's no perfect writing method because everybody works differently. But, the big suggest that stood out to me that I completely disagree with is "write the perfect first draft". For beginning writers, that's a huge trap to fall into. They could spend years writing and rewriting and rewriting the first part of their book and never actually finish.

That isn't what that means.

Pantsing is about writing forwards all the time.

Writing the perfect first draft means you dont write a draft at all. You write a book. Its not a draft, because it is already perfect.

There is no rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. There is writing the book, then editing the book, then proofreading the book, and then launch. Nothing gets rewritten, and there are no years involved.

I would have said "Write a book in only one pass, edit it, proof it, and get it out there." That's what "write the perfect first draft" means. Using the word 'draft' at all is where people misinterpret the meaning.

Pantsers dont draft, we write books without looking back, then polish them when complete.

 
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sandree

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2018, 11:20:39 PM »
INFP-A now - according to the 16personalities website's test. I think when I took it years ago, it came up INFJ

Genre:  science fiction now, possibly fantasy in the future
Method:  Mostly pantsing, very intuitive - similar to writing into the dark except for more editing passes. This could change - Iím a newb.
Output:  just finishing my first novel - took about a year?
 

sandree

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2018, 11:32:00 PM »
I guess it depends on how you define rewriting and editing. In the video, it sounded like he never went back for an editing pass after the whole first draft was completed. This seems like something only an experienced writer can do. As a new writer, my learning curve was so steep, that I had to go back and bring the beginning of the book up to the standards of the later chapters - and do a lot of patching and reworking to get it all to hang together. Is that rewriting or editing? Not sure.

Maybe it doesnít matter - I get the general message of moving forward with the writing and writing into the dark. Both of those ideas make sense. Some of us might not be skilled enough in the craft not to do some heavy editing passes before it goes out into the world.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 11:35:02 PM by sandree »
 

JRTomlin

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2018, 01:06:55 AM »
There are a lot of problems using his method will cause, especially for new writers. But I guess if it works for, then that's great.

Like what? Because from what I read from all sorts of writers, every method has problems for someone. No one has said everyone has to do this, but it works for many of us. I've tried and tried to outline, and it causes a lot of problems for me. My feeling is, people should try any kind of way to write, find what works for them, and then be allowed to do it without people telling them it's wrong or it's going to ruin their writing, or whatever. It's sort of the same pointless argument about "fast" writing vs "slow" writing.

Of course there's no perfect writing method because everybody works differently. But, the big suggest that stood out to me that I completely disagree with is "write the perfect first draft". For beginning writers, that's a huge trap to fall into. They could spend years writing and rewriting and rewriting the first part of their book and never actually finish. The best thing for a new writer to do is actually finish a book. If you've been writing for 30 years like him, that is a workable method, but I would never suggest a new writer to write a perfect first draft. I've only been writing to publish for 3 years but I've met a lot of beginning writers at cons who tell me they never finish anything because it's never good enough. I fell into that trap when I was writing the first book I intended to publish. It took me nearly 3 years to finish because i was never happy with it. I kept going back and rewriting the first quarter of the book over and over. It wasn't until I finished the first draft that everything became clearer. A light switched on and a few revisions cleaned up the book to the point I felt good enough to invest my own money into publishing it.

On that same idea, another thing he said that rubbed me the wrong way is to write that first draft, put it out there and forget about it because he doesn't care about them. That just...baffles me. It tells me he writes to make money and for no other reason. I write for the creative process and I want to put the best possible product that my skills allow out into the world. It usually takes a revision or two to fill in plot holes, build characters, foreshadow, and other things that really round out a story.

To be honest, I couldn't watch the whole thing. It just seemed like one person's rant against traditional publishing.  :dizzy
Except he says NOT to rewrite. If you are re-writing, it is no longer a first draft. And no he does not say he does not care about the 'creative process." The Creative Process was writing it in the first place.

99% of that re-writing you think people should do is nothing but nit picking that does nothing to improve the novel. I can build characters, foreshadow and round out the story the first time through. It means actually thinking about you are writing, not just vomiting onto the page, I admit. It means I sweat over that 'first draft', but my idea of hell is nit picking over a novel for months. I find nothing 'creative' about that.

YMMV
 
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Eugene Lloyd MacRae

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2018, 06:01:30 AM »
I guess it depends on how you define rewriting and editing. In the video, it sounded like he never went back for an editing pass after the whole first draft was completed. This seems like something only an experienced writer can do. As a new writer, my learning curve was so steep, that I had to go back and bring the beginning of the book up to the standards of the later chapters - and do a lot of patching and reworking to get it all to hang together. Is that rewriting or editing? Not sure.

Maybe it doesnít matter - I get the general message of moving forward with the writing and writing into the dark. Both of those ideas make sense. Some of us might not be skilled enough in the craft not to do some heavy editing passes before it goes out into the world.

Dean Wesley Smith does 'edit'. He uses a term called cycling -as he writes- and it's one that I use. Besides typos or grammatical errors, when I go back through on my cycling I look to see if I've added in (or need) one of the five senses to ground the reader. That's just one of the things I have to be conscious of making sure I have in my stories.

He can explain it in his own words at

https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/you-can-learn-story-from-the-hg-network/

https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/heinleins-rules-chapter-six/


I can understand what you mean about the learning curve but don't let that discourage you. When I did my first couple of books I realized I had too much packed into thick paragraphs and had to go back and split the words into action-reaction sequences that made it much easier to read and made more sense.  Just keep learning and writing stories.
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CoraBuhlert

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2018, 11:29:40 AM »
Okay, I'll play:

Type: INFP
Genres: Science fiction, mystery/crime fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure
Method: No outline, two drafts
Output: approx. 2 novels plus 10 to 12 shorter stories published, more written

Blog | Pegasus Pulp | Newsletter | Author Central | Twitter | Instagram
Genres: All of them, but mostly science fiction and mystery/crime
 

Hopscotch

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2018, 01:40:11 AM »
Pantsers dont draft, we write books without looking back, then polish them when complete.

I suppose I take that to the extreme - I write to edit.  I write in a frenzy to get those ideas out of my head, then wallow in happy editing shaping the story.  30 books in 7 years and lots of fun along the way.  Grabbing process ideas from more successful writers is useful, but what works for you, works.
 
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She-la-te-da

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2018, 02:39:16 AM »
Of course there's no perfect writing method because everybody works differently. But, the big suggest that stood out to me that I completely disagree with is "write the perfect first draft". For beginning writers, that's a huge trap to fall into. They could spend years writing and rewriting and rewriting the first part of their book and never actually finish.

That isn't what that means.

Pantsing is about writing forwards all the time.

Writing the perfect first draft means you dont write a draft at all. You write a book. Its not a draft, because it is already perfect.

There is no rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. There is writing the book, then editing the book, then proofreading the book, and then launch. Nothing gets rewritten, and there are no years involved.

I would have said "Write a book in only one pass, edit it, proof it, and get it out there." That's what "write the perfect first draft" means. Using the word 'draft' at all is where people misinterpret the meaning.

Pantsers dont draft, we write books without looking back, then polish them when complete.



Exactly, Timothy. People misunderstand what DWS does all the time (sometimes to the point that I think some are deliberately not getting it. Like any other "rule" about writing, he's shortened it down to the basics, and he doesn't go into the details all the time. People who want to learn to do it this way must take the time to learn the craft and get to the point they aren't agonizing over every word or scene. Once it becomes a learned skill, like muscle memory, you're able to simply sit down and write.

Quote
I also think writing a book and forgetting it instantly is another way of saying you don't care about the story or the reader in the slightest.

Not what he or any of us who write the same way mean it. What DWS is trying to do is stop people from endlessly "polishing" their books, and worrying over the book once it's out there is another way some writers can't move forward. When I'm working on a book, it's very important. I edit as I go (cycling), do one draft, format and publish. Do I miss things? Sure. But I guarantee you, look at any book, no matter how many times it's been drafted, edited, rewritten, proofread and on and on, and there will be mistakes.

Look this won't work for every writer. No one says it will. But it works for those of us who understand the method and put our creative mind in the driver's seat at all times. I've been writing this way for longer than DWS, it was the way I taught myself to write by the time I was nine or ten, so 50 years. Once I started finding books on how to write, I realized it wasn't how others crafted their stories, but it worked for me then, and it works for me now.

My advice to all writers:  you do you, and let others do what works for them. No one way is right or wrong, just different, as we are all different. Stop trying to scare off new writers by telling them there will be all sorts of horrors awaiting if they go off the outline and edit multiple times track, because it isn't necessarily so.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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angelapepper

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2018, 04:04:02 AM »
It's good to note that when a person is writing their first book, they don't know what method is going to work best for them. If they pants it, and can't finish the book, it would be good to give outlining a shot. If they outline and then get too bored to finish, then toss the outline and give pantsing a shot.

For experienced writers, it's different. Perhaps the most maddening thing is that even when you're writing in the best method (for you), you might experience normal creative uncertainy, especially if your personality makes you more self-critical and doubting, and you might feel like you're using the wrong method when you probably aren't. That's why we're all so interested in how other people write.

We're always looking for that "one weird trick" that'll get us writing 5k+ a day of high-quality work that will sell, with a big smile on our faces. As far as I can tell, exactly 12 people have figured that out. LOL.
 
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dgcasey

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2018, 04:14:02 AM »
It's good to note that when a person is writing their first book, they don't know what method is going to work best for them. If they pants it, and can't finish the book, it would be good to give outlining a shot. If they outline and then get too bored to finish, then toss the outline and give pantsing a shot.

I do kind of a mix of the two. I'll use my timeline program to map out the story, which serves as my outline. I'll refer to it as I get started with the writing, but by the time I'm hitting the halfway point, I don't look at it too much. I figure by that point I know where the story is going and I just go with it, sometimes taking some wild detours along the way. Some writers can start a story, without any idea as to where it is going, but I need to have a rough idea. If I jump into my car to drive to Yellowstone and I have three weeks to get there, I know where I'm going, but I'm probably going to take some side roads to get there.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 07:20:36 AM by dgcasey »
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angelapepper

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2018, 05:07:56 AM »

I do kind of a mix of the two. I'll use my timeline program to map out the story, which serve as my outline. I'll refer to it as I get started with the writing, but by the time I'm hitting the halfway point, I don't look at it too much. I figure by that point I know where the story is going and I just go with it, sometimes taking some wild detours along the way. Some writers can start a story, without any idea as to where it is going, but I need to have a rough idea. If I jump into my car to drive to Yellowstone and I have three weeks to get there, I know where I'm going, but I'm probably going to take some side roads to get there.

A mix is great! I used to feel like whenever I veered off the outline and wrote a different ending it was a waste of time to write the outline, but now I see that it was just one path explored so I could then take a better path.

These days, my outlines are better, so I tend to stick to them. I think my early days outlines just weren't as good / worth following.

Outlining makes more sense later in a series, too, when you have already explored and developed the main characters a great deal. I can plan for them while leaving subplots and side characters more open.
 

CoraBuhlert

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2018, 01:39:14 PM »
That YouTube channel has a lot more videos from the 20Booksto50K Vegas conference BTW. Lots of interesting stuff there and cheaper than attending the actual conference.

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emory

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2018, 09:05:09 AM »
When I first came across this concept of cycling, I was confused. I tried to figure out what he was talking about, what he was doing. I searched his blot posts trying to find that key to unlock it to make sense to me. I saw all the words, watched as everyone stroked their chin and nodded in that knowing way. Clearly, he was speaking a language I didn't understand but they did.

Then I read one of the links in this conversation. ( https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/you-can-learn-story-from-the-hg-network/ for reference )

400 words. Stop. Cycle back, spruce up, get to the end of the 400 words and write for 400 more. Stop.

Suddenly, clarity hit me like a truck of bricks.

I do this. I'm not dedicated when I do it (as in I'm not as structured and focused) but I do it. Only, I don't do it in word count.

I use my timer. 10 minutes write. Stop. Go back, spruce it up, get to the end, set timer and write for 10 minutes. Since 10 minutes gives me 350-400 usable words, it works out to roughly the same thing he does.

Next time I sit down to write, I'm going to be a little more disciplined about it.
 
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dgcasey

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2018, 09:34:26 AM »
400 words. Stop. Cycle back, spruce up, get to the end of the 400 words and write for 400 more. Stop.

I remember reading somewhere of an author that does something like this. He sits down to write his daily words and then the next day, before he starts on the new words, he goes back to the day before and edits and cleans it up. He does this all the way through the book and when he finishes the last day, he has a completed novel that has been written, rewritten and readied for publishing in one go. I guess this would also serve to get him back into the story, as he reads through the words of the day before.
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PJ Post

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2018, 11:00:37 AM »
Quote
Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
― Michael Crichton

Quote
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
― Elmore Leonard

Quote
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
― Terry Pratchett

Quote
Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.
― John Updike

Quote
More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.
― John Irving

Quote
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
― Mark Twain

Quote
Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.
― Richard North Patterson

Quote
When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.
― Stephen King

Quote
The main reason for rewriting is not to achieve a smooth surface, but to discover the inner truth of your characters.
― Saul Bellow

Quote
The first draft of anything is [crap].
Quote
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
― Ernest Hemingway

Quote
I can't write five words but that I change seven.
― Dorothy Parker
 

elleoco

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2018, 01:14:45 PM »
I read DWS's blog, although there are many things he recommends I can't or don't want to do. Never hurts to hear from the other side.

It's always been my impression that he defines rewriting in a different way than some of us, that his definition is throwing out a scene or chapter and rewriting every word from scratch. I do recycle, and for the most part it's revision, or even editing, not rewriting, not to say I've never thrown out a whole scene on my own, but the major rewrites I remember were because of beta feedback. Anyway....

Below are snippets from Janice Hardy's blog (http://blog.janicehardy.com/2018/02/the-difference-between-revision-rewrite.html#more) which helped clarify for me and which match what I distilled from DWS:

"A revision is when youíre only changing the text, and not the story. Youíre looking for the best way to convey the information, the right amount of description, the right dialogue vs. internalization balance, and all the technical aspects that make up good writing."

"A rewrite is more substantial, because the story itself is changing. The previous draft didnít work, and you have multiple plots, subplots, or character arcs that just didnít do what you expected them to. Maybe you made some bad decisions or got sidetracked by a flashy idea that didnít pan out, and now itís time to trash it and fix it."

Several of the author quotes above sound like using the above definitions, they're really referring to revision.



 
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Vijaya

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2018, 12:25:58 AM »
PJ, I love all these quotes so much. I have a few of them pasted on my file cabinet.

Elleco, it's funny but I think just the opposite of Janice Hardy in that re-visioning often means changing the story to best convey the themes that emerge and re-writing is changing text. No wonder writers argue about writing and revising. We mean something different. Even with outlining, I have to revise because it is in the writing that I discover what I'm really writing about.

I didn't really know the link between personality type and writing. Seems like they come from all walks of life. But it is good to know different ways to approach writing. It seems like every new book has something to teach me. What has worked well for me:

MB: INTJ
Genre: all manner of writing for kids, PB-YA, F and NF, some adult (mostly NF)
Method: Outline and write. Revise 1-5X depending on how good the first draft is.
Output (17 yrs): 1 novel (contemp. YA, crossing over to adult), 60+ books for kids.

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Edward M. Grant

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2018, 02:30:42 AM »
"I donít want to improve it. When Iíve written something, that is the way it has to stay. Itís like one of those old photos you come across. From the 1970s. And you have this terrible Seventies haircut and giant lapels on your jacket. Itís ridiculous Ė but itís there. It is what it is. Leave it alone." -- Lee Child

For every famous writer who claims to spend years rewriting their book before they're ready to send it out, you can find one who writes a good first draft and calls it done. Different writers work differently, and there are many successful and prolific writers who are one-draft-and done.

And their writing method may well have something to do with being prolific, too.
 
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Edward M. Grant

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2018, 02:39:31 AM »
But, the big suggest that stood out to me that I completely disagree with is "write the perfect first draft". For beginning writers, that's a huge trap to fall into.

No more so than telling them to write a crappy first draft and then try to turn it into not-crap.

Quote
They could spend years writing and rewriting and rewriting the first part of their book and never actually finish.

They could spend years rewriting and rewriting the first draft of their book and never actually finish. Many do.

Quote
The best thing for a new writer to do is actually finish a book.

A book isn't finished until it's published. A crappy first draft and $5 will buy you a cup of coffee; it has no more value than that, at least if you're writing for readers rather than yourself. Yeah, there's a slight morale boost of actually writing 100,000 words followed by 'THE END', but that rapidly disappears once they realize they have 100,000 words of crap with a few gems hidden inside it, and have to turn that into something people might want to read.

Anyone who tells writers to just finish the first draft and then worry about fixing it is implicitly telling them that they're a crappy writer but a great editor. Reality is, most new writers are crappy at both (certainly I was). They're not going to take that crappy first draft and edit it into an amazing fifteenth draft. They're going to edit it into a crappy fifteenth draft, and either get demoralized or start another book.

There are exceptions, for sure. Some aspiring writers have a great eye for a good story but aren't so good at writing one. They may well benefit from writing a crappy draft and editing it. But most are no better at editing than they are at writing.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 02:44:06 AM by Edward M. Grant »
 

Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #39 on: December 15, 2018, 06:36:22 AM »
I have to confess, this method of writing (and I've been reading about it on DWS's blog for quite a while now) baffles me. My mind just doesn't grok how that works. If you've only written 400 words of a story, how do you even know what the story's about and what you need to add/change when you cycle back? And I'm a planner; doing this without an outline is just incomprehensible to me.  Of course, there are people whose minds do work this way, but I am not one of them.

I liken my method to creating a painting. My first draft is a sketch, blocking out what goes where (working from an outline, that basically tells me what goes where and why). After that's done, I step back and look at it as a whole so I can get a feel for the book as a whole, how it hangs together, if I've carried out the vision in my mind. I'll see that this bit is out of proportion, that bit doesn't belong at all, this other part would work better over here, I need to add something over there. I can't see those things unless I have the completed draft as a printed manuscript in my hands. My next draft is the final sketch, then I start layering in the colors, details, and shading.

People's minds work differently, and different methods work for different people. There is no right or wrong way, just what works best for each individual to produce finished books that other people will want to read. I like a lot of what DWS says about creativity and ignoring the "rules", but I think he does a lot of writers a disservice when he touts his method as the best and only way to write.


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Edward M. Grant

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #40 on: December 15, 2018, 06:44:36 AM »
I have to confess, this method of writing (and I've been reading about it on DWS's blog for quite a while now) baffles me. My mind just doesn't grok how that works. If you've only written 400 words of a story, how do you even know what the story's about and what you need to add/change when you cycle back?

For me, the first attempt at a scene will be roughing out the story, and then I go back and add in the details and clean it up. I've used Dean's method on the most recent three or four novels, and I found I spent about half the time getting the first act right, then the rest of the book pretty much wrote itself: I'd set up the characters and situations in the first act, then I just had to let them tell me the rest of the story.

As you say, different writers write differently. I could never write with an outline, because I'd already written the story in the outline, so adding in the extra words to produce a finished novel was just tiresome. This way, I don't know the ending until the characters tell me what it is.
 

Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2018, 06:58:46 AM »
As you say, different writers write differently. I could never write with an outline, because I'd already written the story in the outline, so adding in the extra words to produce a finished novel was just tiresome. This way, I don't know the ending until the characters tell me what it is.

Yeah, see, for me, using an outline makes me *more* excited to write the story, because I can see all the cool stuff that's in store. Maybe I can't get to that part right now, but I know it's there waiting for me to dive in and explore. And I've written books where I don't know the ending, because the characters wouldn't tell me or I couldn't see how the plot events were going to work out, and I found it terrifying and stressful.

Maybe part of it is a function of risk tolerance and how much of an adrenelin (sp?) junkie you are. DWS is/has been a professional poker player. Some people enjoy jumping out of airplanes or running marathons. Others can't think of anything less fun. I'm in the latter category.


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Tom Wood

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2018, 08:52:22 AM »
The hero's journey is typically shown as milestones arranged around a circle. A lot of the related plotting methods use a similar pattern. If a clock face is overlaid, then 12-3 is Act 1, 3-6 is Act 2A, 6-9 is Act 2B, and 9-12 is Act 3. The numbers have no meaning other than to provide a common reference point.

At about the 8 o'clock mark, there is frequently a scene called the 'dark moment of the soul' where the hero realizes that their selfish pursuit of their want will not get them what they need. In fact, their pursuit has made things much worse and has placed everyone at risk of a terrible consequence. In Inside Out it's the scene where Joy is in the valley of forgotten memories where she realizes the value of Sorrow, and experiences sorrow herself for the first time. Worse, she is hopelessly separated from Riley.

In Wreck it Ralph it's the scene in the penthouse apartment where he's told that his game console will be unplugged the next morning because he wasn't there to perform his role. His selfish pursuit of the Hero badge is the cause, so he throws it away. That action reveals a clue.

I need to understand the 'dark moment of the soul' scene before I can really tell the entire story. From there, the story unfolds forward, and winds up backward. That scene spins the story in a new direction into Act 3, and also resolves the backstory that occurred before the story began. So 'writing into the dark' isn't for me at all. Different strokes...
 
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Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #43 on: December 15, 2018, 09:00:25 AM »
The hero's journey is typically shown as milestones arranged around a circle. A lot of the related plotting methods use a similar pattern. If a clock face is overlaid, then 12-3 is Act 1, 3-6 is Act 2A, 6-9 is Act 2B, and 9-12 is Act 3. The numbers have no meaning other than to provide a common reference point.

At about the 8 o'clock mark, there is frequently a scene called the 'dark moment of the soul' where the hero realizes that their selfish pursuit of their want will not get them what they need. In fact, their pursuit has made things much worse and has placed everyone at risk of a terrible consequence. In Inside Out it's the scene where Joy is in the valley of forgotten memories where she realizes the value of Sorrow, and experiences sorrow herself for the first time. Worse, she is hopelessly separated from Riley.

In Wreck it Ralph it's the scene in the penthouse apartment where he's told that his game console will be unplugged the next morning because he wasn't there to perform his role. His selfish pursuit of the Hero badge is the cause, so he throws it away. That action reveals a clue.

I need to understand the 'dark moment of the soul' scene before I can really tell the entire story. From there, the story unfolds forward, and winds up backward. That scene spins the story in a new direction into Act 3, and also resolves the backstory that occurred before the story began. So 'writing into the dark' isn't for me at all. Different strokes...

That's really interesting  :Tup2: For me, the key point in the plot that pulls everything together is the midpoint reversal, that point between the two halves of Act 2, where (in my plotting, at least), something happens to turn everything around. What the hero thought they wanted isn't what they need, the antagonist stikes a disabling blow, something that sends the story in a different direction. (for me, Dark Moment, which I also love, comes after that as the protagonist tries to muddle their way through the new course of action). Like the Dark Moment for you, for me, writing without knowing the midpoint reversal would leave me floundering without any direction.


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Tom Wood

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #44 on: December 15, 2018, 09:26:27 AM »
...

That's really interesting  :Tup2: For me, the key point in the plot that pulls everything together is the midpoint reversal, that point between the two halves of Act 2, where (in my plotting, at least), something happens to turn everything around. What the hero thought they wanted isn't what they need, the antagonist stikes a disabling blow, something that sends the story in a different direction. (for me, Dark Moment, which I also love, comes after that as the protagonist tries to muddle their way through the new course of action). Like the Dark Moment for you, for me, writing without knowing the midpoint reversal would leave me floundering without any direction.

 :Tup2:

Where things fall exactly is story-dependent. Which shows how the overall concept is a flexible framework rather than a fixed template.

Blake Snyder coined the 'dark moment of the soul' phrase in his Save the Cat books on screenwriting. In those, he was very adament about the exact placement of certain plot points. He took a lot of fire for that, and later backed off from his insistence of the timing precision.
 

Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2018, 10:43:34 AM »

Where things fall exactly is story-dependent. Which shows how the overall concept is a flexible framework rather than a fixed template.

Blake Snyder coined the 'dark moment of the soul' phrase in his Save the Cat books on screenwriting. In those, he was very adament about the exact placement of certain plot points. He took a lot of fire for that, and later backed off from his insistence of the timing precision.

I've seen that, Plot Point X happens at xxxx words/xx%. For screenwriting, I guess it's kind of important, when you have production budgets and shooting schedules to worry about. But yeah, for fiction, it needs to be more flexible, depending on the story.

I think that's where a lot of the objections to outlines come from, is the idea that it's a rigid framework saying exactly what has to happen and where it has to happen and you have to stick to it and never vary from it. But I, and a lot of other writers who outline, keep it flexible. I start with an outline of the major points in the books and some of the minor ones, then adapt the outline as I write. Change things as the story evolves, flesh things out, zero in on exactly how the ending is going to come about. It's like planning a trip across country. I map out where I'm starting and where I want to end up, the direction I'm going in (so I don't set out to drive from Tucson to New York and end up in Mexico City instead), major highlights to see along the way and places to stop for the night. But if an interesting side trip comes up or I spot a roadside attraction, I don't bypass them just because they aren't on the outline.


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Astrid Torquay

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #46 on: December 15, 2018, 01:38:42 PM »
There are so many different ways of approaching the creation of a novel, and we're all looking for the best way for us to tell our stories ("best" here being the most efficient way to produce sufficient quality to achieve desired success).

And, lucky us, there are lots of writers who want to tell us how they do it.

To decide whether a writer's advice might be useful, I find it helpful to look at their core principles and see if they align with mine.

DWS says in his book that (1) outlines bore him and then he can't write the book; (2) if he knows how a book he's reading is going to end, it's boring; (3) it is impossible to hold the plot of a novel in your head.

If these resonate with you, then his advice may well be useful.
For me, they don't work: I am not bored by an outline; romance readers always know the ending, what delights us is the "how" -- this also applies to anyone who re-reads a favorite in any genre; and I do hold the whole plot of my WIP in my head, even though my novels are twice as long as his. So while I can learn some things from him, while I would love to emulate his advice, his speed, and his success, I have to look elsewhere for advice.

One thing he points out that I find very encouraging is the block that comes at about 20-40K words. You just have to write through it.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #47 on: December 15, 2018, 02:08:42 PM »
Snip

One thing he points out that I find very encouraging is the block that comes at about 20-40K words. You just have to write through it.

Mine is at around 15-25k words. And it's true. Just gotta keep going.
 

Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #48 on: December 15, 2018, 03:22:40 PM »
To decide whether a writer's advice might be useful, I find it helpful to look at their core principles and see if they align with mine.

DWS says in his book that (1) outlines bore him and then he can't write the book; (2) if he knows how a book he's reading is going to end, it's boring; (3) it is impossible to hold the plot of a novel in your head.

If these resonate with you, then his advice may well be useful.
For me, they don't work: I am not bored by an outline; romance readers always know the ending, what delights us is the "how" -- this also applies to anyone who re-reads a favorite in any genre; and I do hold the whole plot of my WIP in my head, even though my novels are twice as long as his. So while I can learn some things from him, while I would love to emulate his advice, his speed, and his success, I have to look elsewhere for advice.

Good point. I'm also exactly the opposite from what he says. Outlines get me more excited about writing the book; I don't mind knowing how a book will end, it's the journey I enjoy - and with favorite books I enjoy reliving the journey even if I already know the ending; and I can hold the plot of a whole book or even a whole series in my head.

One thing that's interesting is I've read where DWS says he never goes back and reads the books he's written. I'm totally the opposite there, too. I write the kinds of books I love to read, and I love to immerse myself in the journey, the story, as I write them and relive the journey even after they're published. Yes, I read my own books for fun. And even before I start writing, I've been immersing myself in the characters and scenes that come to mind in my imagination, over and over.

Maybe that's another adrenalin-junkie thing. Some people get bored easily, one time through something and they're ready for something new. Others love to immerse themselves in something they love over and over and don't get tired of it.


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BillSmithBooksDotCom

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #49 on: December 16, 2018, 12:28:51 AM »
I couldn't imagine trying to write a novel without an idea of where it is going. Dean admits that he can do this precisely because he has been writing so long and so story is very intuitive to him.

Me, I at least need a roadmap -- my outlines vary from just a couple of sentence/sketches to a chapter by chapter breakdown (but still, I typically only write about 1-2 paragraphs for each chapter in my outline). I look at the outline as a map -- it lets me know where I'm going, but if I find a really intriguing distraction along the way, at least the map gives me an idea of how to get going back in the right direction.

I've never encountered a "the story wants to go in a completely different direction" scenario, but I imagine I could simply replot if I hit one of those turning points -- "No Disneyworld in Orlando? Vegas instead? Okay, let's figure out how to get there."

But I agree on "hitting the wall" anywhere in that 25-65% of the way through the story. Just power through it.

For me though, the most fun is actually in editing. My first drafts are basically there, but the editing drafts are where I go back and all of the cool little gaudy bits, worldbuilding and added character nuances and restructuring things to get the flow right. I have to admit that I really enjoy the editing process.
Bill Smith is the author of the Outlaw Galaxy series of space adventure novels and several Star Wars books. Found at all major retailers as well as at www.BillSmithBooks.com or www.OutlawGalaxy.com. Bill blogs at www.BillSmithBlog.com. Get the Outlaw Galaxy: Little Wind and Other Tales short story collection FREE at all major retailers.

 
 
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Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #50 on: December 16, 2018, 03:16:08 AM »
I couldn't imagine trying to write a novel without an idea of where it is going. Dean admits that he can do this precisely because he has been writing so long and so story is very intuitive to him.

Me, I at least need a roadmap -- my outlines vary from just a couple of sentence/sketches to a chapter by chapter breakdown (but still, I typically only write about 1-2 paragraphs for each chapter in my outline). I look at the outline as a map -- it lets me know where I'm going, but if I find a really intriguing distraction along the way, at least the map gives me an idea of how to get going back in the right direction.

I've never encountered a "the story wants to go in a completely different direction" scenario, but I imagine I could simply replot if I hit one of those turning points -- "No Disneyworld in Orlando? Vegas instead? Okay, let's figure out how to get there."

Oh yeah, absolutely. The outline isn't rigid, it's just a road map.

Quote
But I agree on "hitting the wall" anywhere in that 25-65% of the way through the story. Just power through it.

This seems to be pretty universal, whatever the writing method.

Quote
For me though, the most fun is actually in editing. My first drafts are basically there, but the editing drafts are where I go back and all of the cool little gaudy bits, worldbuilding and added character nuances and restructuring things to get the flow right. I have to admit that I really enjoy the editing process.

Oh, me too. The first draft is the sketch, the lump of clay, the block of marble. Revising and editing is where the artistry really comes in, and it's really fun and rewarding to see the book take shape in the process.


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cecilia_writer

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #51 on: December 16, 2018, 04:50:39 AM »
The main thing for me is working out where to start with the vague story idea I have beforehand. Recently I've taken to writing down a few sentences for each of the first three chapters to make sure I can get it off the ground. This happens after I've spent a while (usually at least a few weeks) thinking about it.
The projected ending is the next most important thing, but because I mostly write mysteries and thrillers I know what the basic structure will be like, ie the mystery must be solved or the situation resolved in the end. So after chapter 3 I just write towards the ending.
I've got better at writing with practice so I don't nowadays have serious issues with my first draft, though it is never ready to publish immediately I type 'The End'.
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PJ Post

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #52 on: December 16, 2018, 06:19:07 AM »
From the internet:

Quote
Rewrite: write (something) again so as to alter or improve it.

So any time we are changing words, deleting words or adding words - we're rewriting, regardless of our personal processes.

The average newbie cannot pull off the Lee Child process, or the DWS process - one pass and done. This is terrible advice because the newbie will almost certainly fail, and then assume they suck because 'all the cool kids are doing it'. This is not supportive or helpful. And, by the way, most of the cool kids aren't doing it, see quotes up-thread.

Also, point of fact, shallow stories require way less rewriting. But if one wants to go deeper, additional reworking, (beyond line edits), is probably going to be necessary - because we're exploring an idea, that is, we're not just spewing our opinion all over the page. The act of writing IS the act of exploration, and exploration is often messy. We have to find our truth in the text. That requires work, self-reflection and lots of rewriting - at least for newbies.

New writers should plan on extensive rewriting - that's how they get better. (And I'm not talking about years, we get better by writing new books too. It's a balance.)

On the other hand, seasoned pros already have a process and they don't really need the advice in the first place.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #53 on: December 16, 2018, 11:26:04 AM »
From the internet:

Quote
Rewrite: write (something) again so as to alter or improve it.

I dont agree. Adding a word, or changing two words around so they read better, is not a rewrite. Its a minor edit.

Rewriting is when you delete a sentence and replace it with a completely new one. But unless you do it at the chapter level, its still a minor edit, not a rewrite.

heyb

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #54 on: December 16, 2018, 02:20:18 PM »
What works for readers works for readers, and good luck accounting for that. When I'm reading an author's work I can't tell if they'd rewritten the thing 50 times or if I'm reading a first draft. There's no way of knowing. This is why I don't think advice one way or the other, when it comes to rewriting, matters.

I think George Orwell's 1984 is a fantastic book, but I couldn't tell you how many rewrites he did of it, if any, and for all I know as great as I think the novel is, he might've landed on a version of it I'd have liked even better than I do now in its current iteration if I'd read Orwell's version of it back somewhere around draft #6.

That's the thing, there's no accounting for anyone's perception. Readers could easily hate the 21st iteration of a given story they'd have loved if they'd had the chance to read the very first draft, or the second, or the third, etc. This rabbit hole leads to near-infinite possibilities. Again, there's simply no way of knowing.

This is why the whole rewriting thing seems to be a subject writers will spend inordinate amounts of time pondering while it likely matters next to nil in the grand scheme.
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #55 on: December 16, 2018, 02:22:50 PM »
This is why the whole rewriting thing seems to be a subject writers will spend inordinate amounts of time pondering while it likely matters next to nil in the grand scheme.

No pondering here. I don't rewrite. Period. Nothing to ponder.  :angel:
 
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elleoco

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #56 on: December 16, 2018, 03:25:36 PM »
This is why the whole rewriting thing seems to be a subject writers will spend inordinate amounts of time pondering while it likely matters next to nil in the grand scheme.

This discussion had me thinking the same thing: What does it matter to me sitting here at home writing my story what the definition of rewriting is?

The answer is it doesn't matter. It's only when other people are involved it matters. That's when someone might read a post here or on a blog or hear something at a critique group and think what an idiot. They say they never rewrite. They must put out unedited first drafts. And of course this being the digital era, the horrified person then takes to social media to say Joe Blow or Jane Doe recommends something diametrically opposed to the actual recommendation.

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Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #57 on: December 28, 2018, 04:19:27 AM »
43edddddddddddddOh, me too. The first draft is the sketch, the lump of clay, the block of marble. Revising and editing is where the artistry really comes in, and it's really fun and rewarding to see the book take shape in the process.
If I may...

I think this is precisely the thought process/pattern that DWS argues against in his book. The idea that an author, in order to be a real artist, must continually shape that manuscript to perfection after the original draft is written. We all work differently, and this sort of idea assumes that we must work all the same in order to be real artists. Reading your comment, I know that is the way you specifically work but it's not the same way I do. I work much more similarly to how DWS does. There is a right way and a wrong way for all of us as the individuals we are.

EDIT: Kyra, the babble at the front of your quoted post was written by my kitten, who typed it in while stepping across the keyboard. I'm leaving it in for giggles.  :catrun
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cecilia_writer

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #58 on: December 28, 2018, 04:43:23 AM »
My writing process now is fairly similar to that of DWS but it has changed quite a lot over the years, and I think way back when I wrote my first novel as an adult, I would have more or less re-written it on my second pass. This was partly for logistical reasons. There were no (personal) computers and the only time I had to write with 2 young children about, one of whom verged on being hyper-active, was to go to bed early and hand-write the first draft. The exercise of typing it up gave me the chance to re-write.
It has taken me a while to refine my process but for my last few books I've done a light edit of the last section I wrote before writing anything new, and I really like doing it this way now.
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She-la-te-da

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #59 on: December 28, 2018, 04:52:10 AM »
As expected, the typical responses about how this will never work, won't work for newbies, won't work for anyone. It's a load of crap. People need to try different things to see what their method is, and then do whatever works for them. AND LET OTHERS DO THE SAME. If any one writer wants to outline and write crappy first drafts and rewrite however many times they think is the "right" way, then fine. Do that. Or don't.

By the way, quoting writers who do it the way you do doesn't really mean anything. I could take the time and find quotes and data about just as many writers who do it my way (though many won't admit to not being outliners and rewriters, because of the same sort of stuff that's posted every time this topic comes up). All it does is reinforce my belief that every writer is different, that's not a problem, and people are free to do what they wish.
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Kyra Halland

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #60 on: December 29, 2018, 04:56:26 AM »
I think this is precisely the thought process/pattern that DWS argues against in his book. The idea that an author, in order to be a real artist, must continually shape that manuscript to perfection after the original draft is written. We all work differently, and this sort of idea assumes that we must work all the same in order to be real artists. Reading your comment, I know that is the way you specifically work but it's not the same way I do. I work much more similarly to how DWS does. There is a right way and a wrong way for all of us as the individuals we are.

I've never said that my way of writing is the best way or the right way or the only way, or that you have to write my way to be an artist or a real writer. If I wasn't specific, I meant that *for me* the real artistry comes in shaping the rough draft. I apologize if that wasn't clear.

It just really bugs me because, reading Dean's blog for many years and what his followers, the people who write like him, have to say, it's *their way* that's the right and only and best way, is what I hear over and over again. Rewriting is bad, outlining is bad, if you do those things it's because you're afraid or you're listening to your English teacher or your critical voice or you're stuck in the myths, you aren't a real writer. Just, no. My brain doesn't work that way, I've been writing long enough to know my brain and my process and what works best and is most enjoyable for me. Honestly, for me, I hate writing the first draft; revising and editing is where the fun comes in for me. Why should I change my process to something I hate, that's no fun, just because DWS says his way is the right and only way?

Everyone do what works best for you and refrain from badmouthing the different ways other people like to do things. Touting what you like about your way and offering it up as a possibility for people to explore is cool; saying it's the best way and the other ways are bad is not cool. Or even talk about why other methods don't work for you. Fine. But don't insult people who do things differently from you.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 09:39:38 AM by Kyra Halland »


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CoraBuhlert

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2018, 11:44:54 AM »
DWS does say on occasion that every bit of writing advice should come with the caveat "That's what works for me".

Unfortunately, he sometimes tends to forget that when dispensing writing advice.

I also wonder what English teachers ever did to Dean Wesley Smith that he keep denigrating them, even though some of the folks reading his blog are English teachers.

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PJ Post

Re: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference
« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2018, 12:14:10 PM »
I posted the quotes to establish a contrary position. I used quotes from famous writers because we're talking about writing.

I'm always going to call bullsh*t on "the one true way", regardless of who says it - even if I like them. I've never been much on championing any one process, (writers should do what works for them), but I am going to support newbie writers whenever possible. And I don't see setting unrealistic expectations as encouraging.