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Polishing the words October 28, 2012

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, writing.
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Editing is a journey just as long if not longer than writing.

I’ve tried to write a lot of novels over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if one went through all my old files, including ones I can no longer access, and found 30 if not 50 attempted novels. Some have been well planned, some have started writing spur of the moment, many fall somewhere in between, and a number are different attempts at writing the same book. Yet I have only managed to write five to completion.

I don’t know how most people go about writing novels, at least those that can finish them. For me, while the first book I wrote to its end was before I gave it an earnest effort, NaNoWriMo has been a transformative experience. Speed, in fact, seems to be the key. What has mainly bogged down and ultimately destroyed those many attempted novels – aside from those thoroughly unplanned ones in which I didn’t even know where it was going – was dissatisfaction with what I wrote, which made it too difficult to continue writing rather than wanting to go back and improve what I wrote already.

NaNoWriMo’s philosophy of quantity over quality, however, changed the way I wrote. Momentum built on itself and I learned to ignore the editing I know I would need to do even if I wrote a really good first draft. In fact, all of the novels I have written to completion since I started participating in NaNoWriMo have been started during the challenge, in one form or another.

Now as I sit with a new completed draft of my latest book, that other vital part of writing looms before me: editing.

It is perhaps a drawback of this style of writing, that forcing oneself to continue even when one has issues with parts of the manuscript results in a rougher work than if one takes more time to create the initial draft. I still prefer it, as I still get it written that way, but it does make editing a bigger task.

In any case, I’m not certain more time taken to craft this draft would have improved this particular book, as I’ve only recently accepted a fairly significant – though quite fixable – issue this story has. My opinion of this work is somewhat interesting; usually I either love a story and get admittedly rigid if not defensive in the face of criticism – true as it might be – or I recognize that the book needs so much work that I hardly even want to touch it afterward.

With Enduring Chaos, I do believe I have a strong story, largely pretty strong characters, and overall fairly good writing. However, I have realized an issue that was pointed out even in the previous draft of the book, that the star is somewhat weak. On the bright side, this should be fairly easy to fix without affecting any of those parts I thought did come out well.

I went over the comments from my husband, my first reader and collaborator, which is always a lesson in humility. I’ll admit it; even when I feel iffy about a story it’s hard for me to accept criticism, to draw the line between criticism on a story and criticism on me. (Fortunately, he understands this and inserted some positive comments as well to soften the blow.)

With Chaos, however, I found that his initial comments on the story were very insightful and accurate, and there was little he commented on that I’m reluctant to change. Perhaps it’s simply the state of mind I was in when I read them – I never know what’s going on in there – but it was a lot easier to accept his critiques and suggestions this time. Actually, I find them almost nothing but helpful in getting the story to what I want it to be.

Maybe I’m maturing as a writer, or maybe I’m just lucky this time. And I still have a big task ahead of me in editing this book. And, of course, I need to turn my focus to book 2, which I will start writing Thursday.

But overall, I’m feeling optimistic about the next step for this book.

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Comments»

1. liamodell1 - October 28, 2012

Good luck with regards to your book! I’m doing NaNoWriMo too! I’m doing a 30 day blog post on my blog. Good luck with NaNo! 🙂

thejinx - October 28, 2012

Thanks! Good luck to you too.

liamodell1 - October 28, 2012

You’re welcome! Thanks! 🙂


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