Author Topic: Writing Into The Dark - Dean Wesley Smith - 20Books Vegas Conference  (Read 2625 times)

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.
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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.