Author Topic: Change in Strategy  (Read 1096 times)

Al Macy (aka TromboneAl)

Change in Strategy
« on: September 27, 2018, 09:26:44 AM »
I embraced the "get the words down and them edit" idea, and I wrote the first drafts of of my last four books in one month each.
But I'm finding that I like my first drafts and don't end up changing them very much. For the next one, I may take more time with the first draft.

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Lex

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2018, 10:50:02 AM »
This is the main way I've sped up my process. When I start editing during the first draft phase, I'm basically procrastinating. "Hey, I don't need to write new words. I can just spend all day tinkering with the ones I've already written!"
 
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She-la-te-da

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 07:15:05 PM »
Sometimes, when you turn off the internal critic, you find that you can write better, cleaner drafts and not need to edit much. Trusting in yourself, your skills and your creativity isn't a bad thing.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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dikim

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2019, 07:37:03 AM »
The number of drafts you need depends on how you work. I plot carefully before I start so my first draft is usually pretty much as I want it.  I know other authors who hardly plot at all but do lots of rewrites after their first draft.

If you're not sure if your first draft is okay, try leaving it for a couple of weeks and then coming back to it or ask someone whose opinion you trust to read it for you. 


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, adults and other writers.
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Eugene Lloyd MacRae

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Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2019, 08:44:25 AM »
Sometimes, when you turn off the internal critic, you find that you can write better, cleaner drafts and not need to edit much. Trusting in yourself, your skills and your creativity isn't a bad thing.
I agree. Just trust yourself and how you're developing as a writer, Al. Do a clean first draft - cycle and edit as you go - and move on to your next book.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 01:06:06 AM by Eugene Lloyd MacRae »
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Denise

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2019, 12:40:48 AM »
Really? I've done this for my previous two books and then when I'm done I hate it when I look at the mess I have (which isn't as much of a mess, but needs some line editing).

I had decided to change my strategy and edit as I go, meaning editing what I wrote the previous day, then going forward. The idea is that, at the end, I wouldn't have such a messy lump. But it's true that my messy, jotted down first drafts didn't get a lot of rewrites, just a couple adjustments here and there and some line editing, so maybe going forward with the first draft without looking back works.

And Lex is right that editing in the middle of writing can be a way to procrastinate.

I think I'll go back to jotting down the first draft quickly.

Thanks for helping me see the light.

Al, if your first drafts are good enough you can continue doing it the way you're doing.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 03:37:15 AM by Denise »
 

L_Loryn

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2019, 02:40:12 AM »
I spend a lot of time on my first drafts because, well, I don't see them as first drafts. I never do a second draft, whatever that is. I write it, then I edit it (mostly grammar), and then I send it to my editor. I do a detailed outline and then I get to work and what I finish, barring small changes, is what I stick with. I do not edit as I'm writing, though. I don't even look back at the previous days words unless I'm trying to get back in the right head space.

When I get to my editing phase, it's mostly grammar, editing some confusing passages, and beefing up detail in areas where I got stuck and forced myself to crank out words instead of wallow in my stuckness. And I check the timeline, too. I also look back at notes I've made in the google-doc margins of things I didn't want to look up as I was writing.

I couldn't imagine editing as I'm writing. It would kill the creative fun of, y'know, writing.
 

angelapepper

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2019, 02:51:58 AM »
I find it fun to change my methods a bit with each book. There is something to be said for changing things just to keep it interesting for yourself, whether it's more efficient or more fun or not.

I don't find the One True Way and commit to it forever and ever. I mix up how much time I spend on outlines versus first or second drafts. The books probably feel a bit different because of that, but that's cool, too.
 

AnneRTan

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2019, 03:31:04 AM »
I used to do a messy first draft. Now I cycle back to edit as I write, so by the time I’m done writing my first draft, I just need to polish. In terms of time, I find this method much faster for me.
 

PJ Post

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2019, 07:16:15 AM »
Some people write to get it done, while others write for something more. I think it's important to align your process with your expectations, both on a personal and business level. And no, you can't do both. The desire to be done as efficiently as possible is diametrically opposed to the 'something more' mindset. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that they are very different approaches. But, to be fair, you can do neither.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2019, 11:07:30 AM »
A story needs a good skeleton. I am a pantster, but my stories always have skeletons before I sit down to be surprised by the details. Call it a story arc, if you will. I also know how long the story is projected to be and the basic tone--although that can change. If you have a strong skeleton, your first draft may be just fine. All you'll have to do later is polish it.

Drafts as such occur when scenes already written don't fit how the story has developed or when there should be certain scenes and they haven't been written into the first draft. I've done that kind of draft and it's murder.
 
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Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2019, 11:18:32 AM »
There are multitudes of story frameworks that are all a version of the hero's journey. When diagrammed on the face of an analog clock, Act 1 is 12-3, Act 2A is 3-6, Act 2B is 6-9, and Act 3 is 9-12.

There is a scene in Act 2B that happens at about 7-8 that Blake Snyder (Save the Cat) called the dark moment of the soul. It's the scene when the hero awakens to the fact that their want is not going to make them happy. In fact, the selfish pursuit of their want has made everything worse. They begin to become woke to their actual need, which they then put on full display during the climax in Act 3.

I have to figure out the dark moment of the soul scene before anything else makes sense. It ties directly to the ending and also to the inciting incident. Everything flows out in two directions from that dark moment of the soul.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2019, 01:36:04 PM »
There are multitudes of story frameworks that are all a version of the hero's journey. When diagrammed on the face of an analog clock, Act 1 is 12-3, Act 2A is 3-6, Act 2B is 6-9, and Act 3 is 9-12.

There is a scene in Act 2B that happens at about 7-8 that Blake Snyder (Save the Cat) called the dark moment of the soul. It's the scene when the hero awakens to the fact that their want is not going to make them happy. In fact, the selfish pursuit of their want has made everything worse. They begin to become woke to their actual need, which they then put on full display during the climax in Act 3.

I have to figure out the dark moment of the soul scene before anything else makes sense. It ties directly to the ending and also to the inciting incident. Everything flows out in two directions from that dark moment of the soul.

I don't necessarily have a dark moment of the soul in my stories as delineated above. I think my characters do ask themselves what they want, and that's different. I write mostly female protagonists, and society pushes women a lot, so women often have to step back and think about what they want versus what others want from them. Conversely, in the most recently published story, I have a male protagonist, and he comes to a point at which he realizes he needs to confront someone. What he wants will make him happy--or as happy as he is likely to be in the circumstances, since he can't kill the guy. In neither case is this a dark night of the soul in my opinion.

Libbie Hawker also says the protagonist has to give up the old ambitions to become that next person (an apotheosis, basically), but that's always been troubling to me. In real life, some people drift, or they feel their way, or they come to a sudden realization or reframing of what's been happening that gives them a different perspective and energizes them to make a certain decision. None of that requires a dark moment. It could in fact be a very happy moment when a character understands that she can have what she wants.   
 

Simon Haynes

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2019, 01:38:21 PM »
With my last four novels I've sent each chapter off to a few dozen alpha readers as I've finished writing it. (I usually hold it back until the NEXT chapter is finished, in case I write myself into a corner and have to tweak something - but that hasn't happened yet.)

During the writing of those four novels, I've only had to go back and add a couple of extra paragraphs of explanation once. The rest of the time it's WHERE'S THE NEXT CHAPTER.

Back in 2014, I think it was, I released a novel on Amazon in ten three-chapter chunks, publishing each bit before the next was ready. That was an interesting exercise, and it did okay, but sharing them for free during the writing process is better.

I used to be a perfectionist, honing and polishing and agonising over every detail. And yet, the books I wrote back then don't have more reviews, or better reviews, or a label on the cover which says 'the author really took a long time over this one.'

Now I just start with a vague idea and decide whether I'm going to write it or not.


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Crystal

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2019, 11:56:03 AM »
Some people write to get it done, while others write for something more. I think it's important to align your process with your expectations, both on a personal and business level. And no, you can't do both. The desire to be done as efficiently as possible is diametrically opposed to the 'something more' mindset. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that they are very different approaches. But, to be fair, you can do neither.

I don't think this is true.

I want to get my draft done so I can figure out WTF the story is actually about. It's not like I want to get the draft done just to be done with it. Though I do like being done with the first draft, because while I'm mid first draft, I am always a little bit worried I won't be able to figure out/finish the book.

Pantsers can be just as invested in the deeper meaning of their books as plotters are. It's just we don't always know what the deeper meaning is during the first draft. (Or maybe we have the deeper meaning but nothing else).

I really don't think there's any correlation between investment in a book's quality/artistic merits and amount of plotting a writer does.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2019, 02:54:43 PM »
Some people write to get it done, while others write for something more. I think it's important to align your process with your expectations, both on a personal and business level. And no, you can't do both. The desire to be done as efficiently as possible is diametrically opposed to the 'something more' mindset. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that they are very different approaches. But, to be fair, you can do neither.

I don't think this is true.

I want to get my draft done so I can figure out WTF the story is actually about. It's not like I want to get the draft done just to be done with it. Though I do like being done with the first draft, because while I'm mid first draft, I am always a little bit worried I won't be able to figure out/finish the book.

Pantsers can be just as invested in the deeper meaning of their books as plotters are. It's just we don't always know what the deeper meaning is during the first draft. (Or maybe we have the deeper meaning but nothing else).

I really don't think there's any correlation between investment in a book's quality/artistic merits and amount of plotting a writer does.

I agree. My characters and plots develop organically, but that doesn't mean they lack depth. If anything, they end up with more depth than I might have intended originally because they have emotional reactions as the stories progress. All kinds of accidental good and deep stuff ends up in my books because characters do surprising things that show who they really are. I don't write about cardboard constructs. It's great fun, and what I get by the end is usually an interesting surprise.
 

She-la-te-da

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2019, 10:33:27 PM »
Quote
deeper meaning of their books

I don't think a book has to have a deeper meaning. It can just be a good story, and nothing else. I'm always amused and mystified when people talk about the theme or purpose of a book, asking how others decide what that is. If there's something deeper in my books, it got there on its own.

But pantsers aren't always just writing to get to an ending. We care just as much about how our stories hang together, about our characters, as anyone else. We just get to the end a different way. Not better, not worse, just is.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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PJ Post

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2019, 09:54:35 AM »
I never said anything about plotting, depth, meaning or pantsting one way or the other.

I was suggesting that an efficient writer, at one extreme, will, for example, use a clichéd plot device because it is expedient in getting character A to Plot Point B. How it impacts theme, meaning, depth or character is irrelevant. On the other hand, when writers are going for something 'more', which could be anything from social commentary to a tighter, more earned story, they necessarily have to spend more time working on it - exploring. It's math.

Conversely, when we abandon the extremes in favor of a more tempered approach, we can find a path that gives us enough 'more' to satisfy, and do so in a timely manner by adhering to some workable process. This is my approach. I plot nothing. I rework/edit/rewrite my stories to death - in search of 'more'. But, depending on the situation, I have no problem with clichés or similar tools if they better serve the story. Sometimes, the long way just isn't the best way, which is why some 'telling' is plenty okay.


Efficiency <-----PROCESS-----> Something More
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 09:57:11 AM by PJ Post »
 

LilyBLily

Re: Change in Strategy
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2019, 10:11:49 AM »
I never said anything about plotting, depth, meaning or pantsting one way or the other.

I was suggesting that an efficient writer, at one extreme, will, for example, use a clichéd plot device because it is expedient in getting character A to Plot Point B. How it impacts theme, meaning, depth or character is irrelevant. On the other hand, when writers are going for something 'more', which could be anything from social commentary to a tighter, more earned story, they necessarily have to spend more time working on it - exploring. It's math.

Conversely, when we abandon the extremes in favor of a more tempered approach, we can find a path that gives us enough 'more' to satisfy, and do so in a timely manner by adhering to some workable process. This is my approach. I plot nothing. I rework/edit/rewrite my stories to death - in search of 'more'. But, depending on the situation, I have no problem with clichés or similar tools if they better serve the story. Sometimes, the long way just isn't the best way, which is why some 'telling' is plenty okay.


Efficiency <-----PROCESS-----> Something More

One reason I fell in love with E.M. Forster was how he'd take a conventional novel plot and characters and make it so much more.

I've run into plenty of novels that have been cynically plotted and offer nothing new or different. I don't want to offer that kind of writing to the public. There's got to be some added value.

Not making any judgments, but when I check out a Look Inside and I see that the author has skimped on story development even in the first pages, I won't bother with the book even if it is free. I prefer a book with some meat to it.