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Expectations (1 Viewer)

KatPC

Senior Member
Hello Everybody.

This word has been 'haunting' me for a while. When I first started writing (not so long ago) I envisaged my novel to be that 'amazing' breakthrough story that connects a whole group of people together, for others to feel what it was like to be 'us,' but slowly the realisation is far away from the truth. The target, the goal, became an Expectation and the changes in the mind, in how to let go of my stories, the worries of what others may think and react brought with it feelings of nervousness, of worry ... and sometimes of regrets. Words can damage, can heal, and I'm not sure if you are like me, but the stories are always a part of ... us.

I decided to let go of the dream to publish, to not pressure myself with Expectations, but to fully enjoy Writing. I want to write stories, my stories, my way of telling a tale that I hope others can enjoy, but also (most importantly) for me to return back to the start, where creating, where offloading, was the sole drive to Writing with Pleasure, no matter how dark or happy a story would be.

Does Expectations change how you write? Change you? As a person, your outlook? Is this normal? How do you deal with your own Expectations compared to others?

I love the fact that Writing is a Journey ... and along our way we can find the answers that helps us realise a lot more about ourselves. Love to read your views.

Thank you for reading.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
It's one of the saddest thing in the world that when you create something amazingly beautiful, the other people don't see it that way. It makes you happy and you want to share it with everybody in the world so that they could feel the same happiness. But they can't because they're built differently and they need something different to feel happy. 😢
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Great questions! When I started writing my novel, it was the first serious piece of fiction I had ever written. I had no expectations other than to complete it. I struggled sometimes with the motivation to write, but once at the keyboard, I fully enjoyed it. At one point around chapter ten, I surprised myself at how coherent it was. And further surprised myself with my ability to craft clever dialogue. I started to think about publishing, did some research on what was required and a few more expectations crept in.

However, these expectations never crippled me. If anything they invigorated me. Because now I had a goal post. And a purpose. I couldn't wait for people to read it. That thought gave me no fear at all. Now, the manuscript is in the hands of two beta readers. People who I consider my target market. Still, I have no fear. I feel confident they will enjoy it. BUT...I am still in LaLa Land. I still don't know if my story or writing is any good.

Perhaps once I have feedback, or critique my attitude will change...but I pray not.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
"Does Expectations change how you write?"

Yes. When I wrote Calizona, I had decided I wanted to write the book I wanted to write...not the book I thought publishers would wanna see. I let loose, said whatever the fuck I wanted, held back nothing (as I had in previous novels). To aid this effort I also changed to a new pen name so that it would not back-contaminate my other works (or vice-versa.) Once I was free of this extra baggage...I wrote better. I stopped thinking about word counts...or content concerns...I just wrote free and without regard for anyone who may ever read the thing.

And the series was a success. Unfortunately I did not apply that methodology to the between books and they had lackluster performance.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Publishing is a subject I'm very relaxed about now. I put my first novel in the (now defunct) Amazon Scout program, and it didn't get selected. I sent a few query letters, and I think only one even got a return email. LOL It was two years before I started the next novel. Part of that time I was doing renovations to sell our house, so busy life, but I could have written some during that time. I could still be waiting for that book to publish, and still be waiting to write the next thing. When I self-published, that ended the project and I could start the next one.

That's my own psychology, but I'm happier to be self-published and writing, than churning submissions and possibly waiting on that to write again.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
A few ideas that help me:
— The books I love the most are not popular books, often my best friends don’t like the same books that I do, but these books are essential to me, they are so important, and I am so grateful to the authors who wrote them. What they wrote helped me know who I am. If we can share that between people, then writing books is worth it.

— Growth mindset and learning mindset. You can learn to be a stronger better writer. There is a craft to learn. The stories you’ve written can be strengthened. Maybe expect only to grow. Many writers find their stride after a while. I think Lois Duncan said nobody took notice until after her seventh book was published and then they started reading the older ones.

Anyway, the only pressure you should put on yourself is to grow and learn your craft and continue to peruse writing. The stuff you can’t control, you can’t control.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
A friend from long ago used to say that all we can do in life is hang our @ss out there, and wait to see if someone kisses it.

Back in the 80's, when 'self publishing' meant paying for your books to get printed, then schlepping them around to bookstores and county fairs hoping to sell a few. I wrote several books back then, and did NOT go the self publishing route - instead I found an agent. Long story short, none of them were published. So, discouraged, I quit writing - I didn't have time anyway, Silicon Valley was booming and I had more work than I could handle.

After I retired I rode my motorcycle all around the US, tried my hand at carving, and eventually returned to writing. For me, self publishing is a great way to go. I write at the edge (sometimes off of the edge) of the standard genre lines on purpose, because as a reader I'm sick of reading the same stories over and over. Now I write what I would want to read but can't find. If my work finds an audience, great, but I'm fine even if it doesn't.
 

NajaNoir

Senior Member
I try to write in a way, that allows people to see many things through their eyes and their wishes. That said, I often want and expect people to "feel" my character. Damn the world and all that exists in it, except for my MC. Love them, hate them, cry for, or feel joy, anything but apathy. That is my biggest expectation, I want emotion, more than "Cool world you wrote there." "That was good."

When those expectations aren't met, it hurts. Honestly, I don't deal with that well at all, it's a work in progress.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
It's one of the saddest thing in the world that when you create something amazingly beautiful, the other people don't see it that way. It makes you happy and you want to share it with everybody in the world so that they could feel the same happiness. But they can't because they're built differently and they need something different to feel happy. 😢
I have had that many times @Lawless. I have sat with my keyboard struggling to press that 'send' button thinking of what others can do to rip it apart ... yet that fear (not expectation) makes me want to do it again. I hold no shame to admit I have flaws in my work, but to correct them, i need others to point them and if what i created didn't ring true to others ... then it means i didn't do a good enough job and we go again. What I found with having that 'naive' belief of some agent plucking my stories to say they are fantastic that the world needs to see, was that the expectation to get every story right every time hindered how i created stories. No longer did i enjoy the rush of coming home from work, switching on the laptop to start typing the thoughts in my head. They became 'lets get these stories out of my head' and rush to edit to make it good, not good but as perfect as i can be, to show others and then 'hope' it is okay and i am improving.

That placed a lot of strain on me ... and after a week to cool down, to step away from Writing, I began to find the purpose to Writing. We all have our reasons to Write and the benefits and joy it brings, but if my or perceived Expectations ruins the very thing that brings me peace, gives me a release, gives me all the positives I take from Writing into something unattainable then continuing with this mindset would bring worry, and anxiety and (especially during the last Creative Phase) doubt.

Great questions! When I started writing my novel, it was the first serious piece of fiction I had ever written. I had no expectations other than to complete it. I struggled sometimes with the motivation to write, but once at the keyboard, I fully enjoyed it. At one point around chapter ten, I surprised myself at how coherent it was. And further surprised myself with my ability to craft clever dialogue. I started to think about publishing, did some research on what was required and a few more expectations crept in.

However, these expectations never crippled me. If anything they invigorated me. Because now I had a goal post. And a purpose. I couldn't wait for people to read it. That thought gave me no fear at all. Now, the manuscript is in the hands of two beta readers. People who I consider my target market. Still, I have no fear. I feel confident they will enjoy it. BUT...I am still in LaLa Land. I still don't know if my story or writing is any good.

Perhaps once I have feedback, or critique my attitude will change...but I pray not.
I hope not too @Taylor. I have been silently watching your progress these last few months, really happy watching you gather steam and posting how you have completed another run of words and moving onto the next part. I can still remember that giddy feeling, the elation of finishing, wanting someone to read it ... but i have so many mistakes in there and it's now 9 months and I haven't returned to finish the second draft, focusing on Shorts to improve my abilities to tackle it back again. Please make a thread for feedback you get ... or maybe i will PM you to be nosy.

"Does Expectations change how you write?"

Yes. When I wrote Calizona, I had decided I wanted to write the book I wanted to write...not the book I thought publishers would wanna see. I let loose, said whatever the fuck I wanted, held back nothing (as I had in previous novels). To aid this effort I also changed to a new pen name so that it would not back-contaminate my other works (or vice-versa.) Once I was free of this extra baggage...I wrote better. I stopped thinking about word counts...or content concerns...I just wrote free and without regard for anyone who may ever read the thing.

And the series was a success. Unfortunately I did not apply that methodology to the between books and they had lackluster performance.
That's scary Ralph. I could relate to a lot of what you wrote (bar writing previous novels)! But I have been dabbling with name change (Kat isn't my real name) but 'this' pen name gives me a lot of comfort and calm and I am more myself with this name than my real name.

I like this:
Once I was free of this extra baggage...I wrote better. I stopped thinking about word counts...or content concerns...I just wrote free
It is a good attitude to copy.

Publishing is a subject I'm very relaxed about now. I put my first novel in the (now defunct) Amazon Scout program, and it didn't get selected. I sent a few query letters, and I think only one even got a return email. LOL It was two years before I started the next novel. Part of that time I was doing renovations to sell our house, so busy life, but I could have written some during that time. I could still be waiting for that book to publish, and still be waiting to write the next thing. When I self-published, that ended the project and I could start the next one.

That's my own psychology, but I'm happier to be self-published and writing, than churning submissions and possibly waiting on that to write again.
Did self publishing knock the monkey off your back? Was it important to have a goal to chase? A purpose? Would you still write if you didn't publish and/or do you think you would be the same writer as you are now?

A few ideas that help me:
— The books I love the most are not popular books, often my best friends don’t like the same books that I do, but these books are essential to me, they are so important, and I am so grateful to the authors who wrote them. What they wrote helped me know who I am. If we can share that between people, then writing books is worth it.

— Growth mindset and learning mindset. You can learn to be a stronger better writer. There is a craft to learn. The stories you’ve written can be strengthened. Maybe expect only to grow. Many writers find their stride after a while. I think Lois Duncan said nobody took notice until after her seventh book was published and then they started reading the older ones.

Anyway, the only pressure you should put on yourself is to grow and learn your craft and continue to peruse writing. The stuff you can’t control, you can’t control.
I don't think i will ever stop writing @Llyralen. it is goal setting, the Expectation that has become a concern as it affected my outlook towards writing. I think that in Writing, and in Life, you should never stop learning. With Expectation it brings pressure, and this is largely self inflicted. A friend is writing a story, a personal project, and she sets herself targets to meet, to form discipline and to stay on track. This is a well used system. I have never worked in this way, as I find target setting unnecessary if the quality of creation suffers. The Expectation to finish on time, to meet deadlines is uncomfortable for me. I work in a kitchen so I meet deadlines all the time, but that life I am very good at. I have been in a kitchen for most of my life that i know what i am doing, but with Writing i often feel like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. Jumping into a new body, not sure what he is doing, fumbling around to find any information about the person he has jumped into ... but with no Al by his side, that and I am no genius like he was. I feel I have little grasp at what I am doing, trying my best with the pieces of information I have ... to create things, personal things that others may not even understand.

A friend from long ago used to say that all we can do in life is hang our @ss out there, and wait to see if someone kisses it.

Back in the 80's, when 'self publishing' meant paying for your books to get printed, then schlepping them around to bookstores and county fairs hoping to sell a few. I wrote several books back then, and did NOT go the self publishing route - instead I found an agent. Long story short, none of them were published. So, discouraged, I quit writing - I didn't have time anyway, Silicon Valley was booming and I had more work than I could handle.

After I retired I rode my motorcycle all around the US, tried my hand at carving, and eventually returned to writing. For me, self publishing is a great way to go. I write at the edge (sometimes off of the edge) of the standard genre lines on purpose, because as a reader I'm sick of reading the same stories over and over. Now I write what I would want to read but can't find. If my work finds an audience, great, but I'm fine even if it doesn't.
Thanks @indianroads, your last few lines gave me much hope. I have a 'different' style in Writing really because (like yourself) I got bored of reading the same format, the same pattern, same story reworded. What made you decide to go 'sod it' I'm writing things this way? Or did you always write things differently to 'others?' I know you said 'the same stories over and over,' but was it because you could write better than them to make their story standout more? That you wanted to create your own style that enjoyed? Was it to standout?

I try to write in a way, that allows people to see many things through their eyes and their wishes. That said, I often want and expect people to "feel" my character. Damn the world and all that exists in it, except for my MC. Love them, hate them, cry for, or feel joy, anything but apathy. That is my biggest expectation, I want emotion, more than "Cool world you wrote there." "That was good."

When those expectations aren't met, it hurts. Honestly, I don't deal with that well at all, it's a work in progress.
I would love to read your work. All my stories are character driven and i try to make all my characters as relatable and as real as possible, with emotion a key component in my stories.

I have always had targets to achieve in my life ... maybe I need to look again at what I want? Or is this a phase?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
[...]

Thanks @indianroads, your last few lines gave me much hope. I have a 'different' style in Writing really because (like yourself) I got bored of reading the same format, the same pattern, same story reworded. What made you decide to go 'sod it' I'm writing things this way? Or did you always write things differently to 'others?' I know you said 'the same stories over and over,' but was it because you could write better than them to make their story standout more? That you wanted to create your own style that enjoyed? Was it to standout?

[...]
I had the chance to say 'sod it' and do my own thing because I'm not financially dependent on income from selling my novels. I also believed that there must be others like me out there that were sick of the same-old same-old stories and tropes, and maybe they would want to take a chance on reading my stuff. Mostly though, I write for me by telling the stories I'd like to read but could never find.

I was also inspired by authors such as Twain and Vonnegut that deliberately stepped away from the conventions of their time and made a mark, and I thought maybe I could do that too - not that I'm anywhere near their league, but I thought, why not try. As the saying goes, you miss every shot you don't take.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Did self publishing knock the monkey off your back?
I wouldn't say there was a monkey on my back. I was never "Trad or Bust". Self-publishing isn't a foot in the door, but it's at least sitting on the doorstep wondering if someone is at home.
Was it important to have a goal to chase? A purpose?
I think that has to be there, yes. My goal was to finish writing a novel. When I did, it was to finish the two three chapter starts I'd done while my first novel languished at the end of chapter twelve. Now my goals have to do with writing in new areas and moving onto synopses I'm interested in getting to.
Would you still write if you didn't publish
No. I'm really only interested in novel length treatments (outside of the LM contest here), and when I finish one, it would be silly to not publish it.
or do you think you would be the same writer as you are now?
That's sort of a circular answer. Here's why. Each time I write and edit a novel, I find new ways to write better. But I also take pride in what I publish. I spend a lot of time and effort putting on a cover to be proud of. I do my best to write an interesting story that readers will buy (not as $$, but as a concept and its characters and events), and I want the writing quality to meet the standards of popular published authors. I'm not up for just writing anything and "Whoops, there it is!" I want the quality of the story-telling and the prose to be comparable to name authors, and if possible, better.
 
Expectations are easy if you're funny. You don't even need to care, you'll know people will laugh. If you missed a scene, they won't complain. The humor just patches things. At least, that how it seems.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I hope not too @Taylor. I have been silently watching your progress these last few months, really happy watching you gather steam and posting how you have completed another run of words and moving onto the next part. I can still remember that giddy feeling, the elation of finishing, wanting someone to read it ... but i have so many mistakes in there and it's now 9 months and I haven't returned to finish the second draft, focusing on Shorts to improve my abilities to tackle it back again. Please make a thread for feedback you get ... or maybe i will PM you to be nosy.
What's keeping you from editing your draft? Surely not mistakes, those can be fixed. Can shorts really improve your abilities that much? I say put your head down and tackle that draft. And try not to be a perfectionist.

I'm still tinkering with mine even though, people are already reading it. I set them up with live links so I can still edit the later parts. I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday and remembered a small piece that had not been resolved. So I got up and revised. It only took me an hour or so. Then I slept much better.

By all means PM me. I haven't got much back yet, but perhaps in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to share the feedback with another writer.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I had the chance to say 'sod it' and do my own thing because I'm not financially dependent on income from selling my novels. I also believed that there must be others like me out there that were sick of the same-old same-old stories and tropes, and maybe they would want to take a chance on reading my stuff. Mostly though, I write for me by telling the stories I'd like to read but could never find.

I was also inspired by authors such as Twain and Vonnegut that deliberately stepped away from the conventions of their time and made a mark, and I thought maybe I could do that too - not that I'm anywhere near their league, but I thought, why not try. As the saying goes, you miss every shot you don't take.
I just started reading The Last Dragon...so yeah...we're out here! :)
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
What's keeping you from editing your draft? Surely not mistakes, those can be fixed. Can shorts really improve your abilities that much? I say put your head down and tackle that draft. And try not to be a perfectionist.

I'm still tinkering with mine even though, people are already reading it. I set them up with live links so I can still edit the later parts. I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday and remembered a small piece that had not been resolved. So I got up and revised. It only took me an hour or so. Then I slept much better.

By all means PM me. I haven't got much back yet, but perhaps in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to share the feedback with another writer.
I use excel to make a grid of chapters and plot points to track their progression through the novel. Character movements, when their descriptions are given, when and how often something is mentioned, even the mention of the safety factor that’s built into well engineered products- basically if it’s important to the story I track it.

That helps me a lot.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
but i have so many mistakes in there and it's now 9 months and I haven't returned to finish the second draft, focusing on Shorts to improve my abilities to tackle it back again.
Interesting timing. @PiP and I were having a discussion about a thought she had this morning, wondering if her first chapter is strong enough as the opening chapter of our book ... and her FMC's story is the opening THREE chapters.

I happen to think it's easily strong enough, so I wrote her:

Do you know the two most difficult things when dealing with authors?
1. Convincing a good writer that their writing is good enough.
2. Convincing a hack writer they've only written crap.

Obviously, that doesn't apply to everyone in each category, but I've been in both places with authors who asked me for critique.

I've read work where the author used the wrong word--simply uneducated vocabulary--not just once and for one word, but all over the place, horrible sentence structure, or had read a book they liked and tried to write EXACTLY that book themselves, or any of a host of bad writing elements, separately and in combination. They'd then self-publish and wait for adulation to pour in. No matter how gently you try to break it to them, some of those writers can't and won't believe what they still must learn.

On the other hand, you have--among even published authors-- writers who go through dozens of drafts fiddling with their work, and I can assure you each iteration shows exponentially diminishing returns insofar as any improvement in the quality of the story. Somewhere early in the sequence of drafts they hit the sweet spot, and everything after that was word churn. Writer paranoia is classic and widespread.

My own experience? Considering my first draft of my first novel, I wondered how it stood up. I was very concerned whether I thought it was sufficient in quality just because I liked my own story, or if it really was. I don't happen to lack self-confidence, but EVERY writer needs validation in different ways and at different times, and an attitude of honestly toward their own work. My solution at that time, for both needs, was STUDY.

I dove headfirst into articles and blogs and writing guides and sentence structure manuals ... you name it. Yeah, I found some things I recognized I could work on. I did a revision for each of them, separately. On one revision I removed some backstory, and I still wonder if I needed to ... I took out maybe 4-5 pages, and I'm seeing a LOT more backstory than that in a lot of stuff I'm reading. One draft I nuked a lot of adverbs. Another draft cut out superfluous adjectives. I cut dialogue tags to the point that in my current writing, I hardly use them at all. And so on.

Any writer may need a list of such adjustments, and that list will be unique to each writer.

I think I was lucky that I happened to approach it that way. Each time through, I had one manageable task where I could confidently see the improvement. It couldn't overwhelm me. I got so much experience with each factor as I focused on that one thing, I learned enough to recognize them (mostly) as I write and have fewer of each in my first drafts. Now I don't have to do all those drafts. I have a few of each mistake in a first draft, and I clean them up during the course of my first read-through and my proofread. And if I miss a few, it's not important. We can survive an extra modifier or a redundant phrase here and there. :)

This might be happening to you. You might be thinking "There are all these things I might need to fix". Maybe there are, maybe there aren't. But just find out what they are and take them on one at a time. The guaranteed result is: After you complete that list, you'll have a novel you're proud of.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
I had the chance to say 'sod it' and do my own thing because I'm not financially dependent on income from selling my novels. I also believed that there must be others like me out there that were sick of the same-old same-old stories and tropes, and maybe they would want to take a chance on reading my stuff. Mostly though, I write for me by telling the stories I'd like to read but could never find.

I was also inspired by authors such as Twain and Vonnegut that deliberately stepped away from the conventions of their time and made a mark, and I thought maybe I could do that too - not that I'm anywhere near their league, but I thought, why not try. As the saying goes, you miss every shot you don't take.
I really like this. The bad thing is we all have different lives, and at present, I don't have that financial security to say 'stop work for a week' to write ... even if i had a week it still wouldn't be enough and the only window to be a 'proper' writer is 25 ... 26 ... 28 years down the line? There are so many stories running in my mind that losing them, trying to fix the ones i have made, learning new writing skills here and there means there is a tough balancing act of family, work, and writing life ... I very rarely watch much TV and we don't have any subscriptions to Netflix or any shows like this in my house and I have been striking the wrong balance where writing 'too much' created a lot of negative thoughts and made me question why I write when it would be easier to pay a monthly subscription, sit on the couch for a few hours before work and talk crap about a show to others. Having took a break away from writing, it made me realise that I want to be the one creating the stories, in my own messed up way and shunning the universal norm/habits of the masses maybe seen as antisocial or regressive to the public ... but i love my stories ... i just can't squeeze more time to better my work.

The words of the impatient hey?
What's keeping you from editing your draft? Surely not mistakes, those can be fixed. Can shorts really improve your abilities that much? I say put your head down and tackle that draft. And try not to be a perfectionist.

I'm still tinkering with mine even though, people are already reading it. I set them up with live links so I can still edit the later parts. I woke up in the middle of the night yesterday and remembered a small piece that had not been resolved. So I got up and revised. It only took me an hour or so. Then I slept much better.

By all means PM me. I haven't got much back yet, but perhaps in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to share the feedback with another writer.
I would will PM you ... I would love to pick your brain :)

I finished my first draft at the start of the year and commenced my second ... only to be appalled by the number of basic mistakes. We are talking about telling all the way and dialogue that put the author to sleep. Nothing flowed, the 'feel' I was going for read exactly what it was ... the 2am sleepy writing trying to bridge scenes together and the happy rush next morning to write the story developing in my dreams. It is a mess.

I changed plans to write short stories as they are easier to manage, to go through drafts and clean up a lot of mess. Only have I realised that writing short stories are very different and the 'usual' template should be adhered to. I don't which maybe a mistake but from the one or two friends I have in my tiny writing circle, they have noticed cleaner reads and I have noticed a big change from the start of the year. Because of my work I have tended to be 'too close' to a story to ever pot glaring errors but I'm spotting a few of them, which is good ... just have such a long way to go. What I do like about my writing is that the content are what makes me feel this is a good story i just need to smooth out the rough edges.

Interesting timing. @PiP and I were having a discussion about a thought she had this morning, wondering if her first chapter is strong enough as the opening chapter of our book ... and her FMC's story is the opening THREE chapters.

I happen to think it's easily strong enough, so I wrote her:

Do you know the two most difficult things when dealing with authors?
1. Convincing a good writer that their writing is good enough.
2. Convincing a hack writer they've only written crap.

Obviously, that doesn't apply to everyone in each category, but I've been in both places with authors who asked me for critique.

I've read work where the author used the wrong word--simply uneducated vocabulary--not just once and for one word, but all over the place, horrible sentence structure, or had read a book they liked and tried to write EXACTLY that book themselves, or any of a host of bad writing elements, separately and in combination. They'd then self-publish and wait for adulation to pour in. No matter how gently you try to break it to them, some of those writers can't and won't believe what they still must learn.

On the other hand, you have--among even published authors-- writers who go through dozens of drafts fiddling with their work, and I can assure you each iteration shows exponentially diminishing returns insofar as any improvement in the quality of the story. Somewhere early in the sequence of drafts they hit the sweet spot, and everything after that was word churn. Writer paranoia is classic and widespread.

My own experience? Considering my first draft of my first novel, I wondered how it stood up. I was very concerned whether I thought it was sufficient in quality just because I liked my own story, or if it really was. I don't happen to lack self-confidence, but EVERY writer needs validation in different ways and at different times, and an attitude of honestly toward their own work. My solution at that time, for both needs, was STUDY.

I dove headfirst into articles and blogs and writing guides and sentence structure manuals ... you name it. Yeah, I found some things I recognized I could work on. I did a revision for each of them, separately. On one revision I removed some backstory, and I still wonder if I needed to ... I took out maybe 4-5 pages, and I'm seeing a LOT more backstory than that in a lot of stuff I'm reading. One draft I nuked a lot of adverbs. Another draft cut out superfluous adjectives. I cut dialogue tags to the point that in my current writing, I hardly use them at all. And so on.

Any writer may need a list of such adjustments, and that list will be unique to each writer.

I think I was lucky that I happened to approach it that way. Each time through, I had one manageable task where I could confidently see the improvement. It couldn't overwhelm me. I got so much experience with each factor as I focused on that one thing, I learned enough to recognize them (mostly) as I write and have fewer of each in my first drafts. Now I don't have to do all those drafts. I have a few of each mistake in a first draft, and I clean them up during the course of my first read-through and my proofread. And if I miss a few, it's not important. We can survive an extra modifier or a redundant phrase here and there. :)

This might be happening to you. You might be thinking "There are all these things I might need to fix". Maybe there are, maybe there aren't. But just find out what they are and take them on one at a time. The guaranteed result is: After you complete that list, you'll have a novel you're proud of.
My basics are very poor. When I write, I write blindly, trying to piece together the story formed/forming in my head with the limited tools I have. I know you have read Firefly and passed some very helpful comments (I still haven't returned to make changes, but on a quick read-through on the first 'part' I picked up 2 line sentences that needed to be changed - Sorry digressing) but a few years back when I was writing my novel, my one (of two) friends who cared about me starting this journey wrote SPaG. I had no idea what this was. Jumping into the Forum, I read words like Prose and people writing about adverbs, redundant this and how restructuring a few words can change sentences from 'telling' to 'showing.' I have read and watched a ton of articles and videos that helped me improve to this point, something I am very happy about, and had the courage to put out a story to not really widespread condemnation and criticism which was kinda scary.

I feel very beneath others here, I know I shouldn't, but that's the past catching up with me. I have a big mental list I'm knocking down, hoping they don't come back but the stories keep coming and my patience isn't always the best when I see mistakes again. It's a journey and no one said it is an easy road. To tie it back with the title of this thread, it's why I have been lowering my own Expectations, making a thread to see what others views are on this.

It's been very insightful!
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
The only expectation I have is to improve. I write honestly and for myself, never pull punches and never worry that third person limited might be construed as my own views and opinions. If a character requires a certain mentality then I run with it in the prose and dialogue. Never ever worry about what people think of you (the writer) because of what you've written. Write what you want, how you want and ignore everything else, unless the critique is to do with style, plot points, story arcs, character development etc.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I really like this. The bad thing is we all have different lives, and at present, I don't have that financial security to say 'stop work for a week' to write ... even if i had a week it still wouldn't be enough and the only window to be a 'proper' writer is 25 ... 26 ... 28 years down the line? There are so many stories running in my mind that losing them, trying to fix the ones i have made, learning new writing skills here and there means there is a tough balancing act of family, work, and writing life ... I very rarely watch much TV and we don't have any subscriptions to Netflix or any shows like this in my house and I have been striking the wrong balance where writing 'too much' created a lot of negative thoughts and made me question why I write when it would be easier to pay a monthly subscription, sit on the couch for a few hours before work and talk crap about a show to others. Having took a break away from writing, it made me realise that I want to be the one creating the stories, in my own messed up way and shunning the universal norm/habits of the masses maybe seen as antisocial or regressive to the public ... but i love my stories ... i just can't squeeze more time to better my work.

The words of the impatient hey?
Back in the 1980's I wrote several books that went nowhere. I was a design engineer back then working in hi-tech Silicon Valley. Admittedly, I wrote those stories during a 'lull' in my workload, I was only working 10 hours a day and 5 days a week. I wrote at lunchtime at work, then after I got home, and on weekends. Can you do the same?
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
I feel very beneath others here, I know I shouldn't, but that's the past catching up with me.
But see, don't feel that way.

If there's something I write better than you, it only means that you're me some years ago before I learned more about that thing. But like I said above, take one thing at a time. If you think you need work on balancing the proper mix of modifiers, take your novel and work on ONLY that, and don't even think about "showing vs telling" while you do. Hell, "showing vs telling" can confuse ME. LOL

I personally feel it's more of a development in story-telling style than strict technique, because you don't "do it" all the time. To differentiate, if I write "was", I ALWAYS consider whether it's okay to leave it there, or I need to directly replace it, or reconstruct the sentence. Sometimes it's okay to leave it. If I need to end a scene with summary action and move on, I NEVER worry if I should be "showing" at the end of that scene. That's not a technical element, that's a pacing element, and pacing is part of storytelling.
 
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