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Inside Out Or Outside In? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
How to a approach this subject without causing a flap? I suppose I could reiterate every approach is a good approach if it works for the individual. That should do it, hopefully ... The subject, yes you've guessed it, is editing. Whadaya know!

I think I've identified the main point of contention. The general approach of writers is to edit big and then edit small. So, whilst I'm building a story one word, one sentence, one paragraph and one scene at a time, others are writing the story and then editing the scene, the paragraphs, the sentences and finally the word. What they do in the editing process has become what I do in the writing process. We are two sides of the same coin.

What I'm doing is embracing the technical process, while they're embracing the creative process. It comes down to what your strongest aspects are. My strength is in my imagination and ability to come up with unique stories, so I don't feel that needs to be practised. I'm naturally a creative person in all aspects of my life. It comes easy. Technically I'm quite good too but not as good as I'd like to be, hence the focus on my technical ability for a year. Others may be very strong technically, so they practice story and creativity, hence the conflict in approach.

I used to just want to write stories, and that's what I did. For over thirty years. But in reading those stories back, I could see I'd expressed those stories in less than interesting prose. So, I thought to myself: Should I continue writing stories and waste good ideas using bad prose or should I concentrate on the prose and then write stories? I obviously opted for the latter. This has left me with something of a conundrum though. Not only do I have to stay true to my goals for the year, but I have to fight the urge to 'prove' I can write simply and straightforwardly. And the longer that goes on, the more pressure builds on showing the fruits of my labour next February. It's scary stuff but I'm not afraid of falling short so that helps. Failure is 'not trying.' The act of trying is success. It is better to try to come first and come last than it is to try and come second and come third.

Which approach you choose is linked to what you love most. I don't think that's a controversial thing to say. I love words, sentences and paragraphs. The feel and rhythm of them on the paper. The musicality, grit and softness. It was an easy choice then for me to concentrate on the minutia before the bigger picture. A paragraph is like a poem to me, broken down into phrases (sentences) and notes (words). In that respect, technically, I'm not even close. I do know my approach has definitely improved my craft even if ultimately I'm still not close to my goal. If that's all I take from this after the years up, I'll be more than happy.

I have to see this through though. I can't let outside influence effect what my aims are, regardless of how frustrating it gets. It's only a year after all, and then I can simply write the story and forget practising, editing afterwards like everyone else! I'm hungry for that day and holding myself back from taking a nibble is making me hungrier.

This isn't the post I intended to make. But then again, I am a pantser.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I think you may be generalizing other writers' process too much. I know I've read a couple of writers here suggest "write any crap and fix it in revision", and what works for a writer is wonderful for that writer. I doubt, as a general strategy, it dominates most authors' process. And while some writers revise to unhealthy extremes, that's caused more by crisis of confidence than early drafts which don't stand up ... at least for more experienced writers.

According to the stats from my app, 85-90% of what I write goes from first draft into published product. I concentrate on writing effectively as I write. Now, the book I wrote full time last spring fell into the 85% category. At 5K words a day I had more typos. LOL On the novella I just finished, only writing 1K words a day, I hit 95%. I'm not trying to brag; I just probably have data most writers don't have. I'm sure lots of authors write well as they write. There are a dozen things I now know not to do that I either don't do, or write it and see it right away.

I'm reading Sue's WIP about 20K words at a time. She needs the same type of revision on redundant phrases that I have to weed out in my revision, but I can tell you she writes beautifully in her first draft. Heck, in 40K words, I found ONE typo! :) I was delighted to finally find a typo in her first draft, because I was starting to feel pretty sloppy about mine. LOL
 
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Irwin

Senior Member
I can't even write a 650 word story without careless and obvious errors, like double words. These old eyes just ain't what they used to be. Maybe I should use one of those grammar checkers.
 
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Phil Istine

WF Veterans
I can't even write a 650 word story without careless and obvious errors, like double words. These old eyes just ain't what they used to be. Maybe I should use one of those grammar checkers.
Tell me about it - the times I double up on a word or omit one completely, or edit part of a sentence thereby rendering another part of the sentence incorrect. This might not work for everyone and does seem a bit wasteful, but I sometimes print a piece out after finishing because I locate errors more easily on a printed sheet than on a screen. It can save paper if you have a number of waste sheets around that have gibberish already printed on one side. I got into that habit years ago because, unbelievably, my first word processor was not WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), so I needed to print test sheets. The WP was on one of those ancient Amstrad PCWs and called Locoscript.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
... or edit part of a sentence thereby rendering another part of the sentence incorrect.
LOL--Exactly.

This in why, in my proofreading app, if I make a change to a sentence, the program flags that sentence. Once I'm done with every sentence, I bump the version number of every changed sentence by one, and start over again looking at only the sentences I changed the first time. Rinse and repeat. I keep going until there are zero sentences changed in my last pass. It's not always the case that my last change broke the sentence--often it's just extended fiddling--but that does happen. And if it happened just proofing in the manuscript in the word processor, it would likely go unnoticed.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I've been reflecting on the ideas in this post (and the Cold Hard Truth post) a lot over the last few days, especially as I am preparing to enter into an editing mode on my current work. (Thanks for that Craft Help thread, @TheMightyAz! I hope it does eventually become its own workshop sub!)

I definitely follow more of an 'outside in' style. The first draft gets my story down, the second draft deals with major issues with plot/characters, and the third draft is a close, line by line edit/revision. I try to keep an inner editor tuned in during the first two drafts, but I don't let my inability to craft a good sentence in a particular moment stop my writing in those first two drafts. I am one of those who just needs to get the informational part down, correctly, before I dive deep into a word craft mode.

I assume my bad first draft writing will continue to improve with years and practice, but I think I will always be a bit limited in how high the quality of my first draft writing will be. My headspace is wildly different depending on the day and circumstances, so what I can expect from myself differs day by day. Some days I can get my editor to tune in while I also create content, but more often, I find more success if I just get the stuff down in all it's poorly written glory and fix it en masse later when I can hyperfocus on getting into an editor mode. This leads to very inconsistent quality in my first drafts - some sections needing major work while others only need a little tweaking. But I actually REALLY enjoy being able to hyperfocus on the writing craft, so 'outside in' brings my brain joy through progress. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I've been reflecting on the ideas in this post (and the Cold Hard Truth post) a lot over the last few days, especially as I am preparing to enter into an editing mode on my current work. (Thanks for that Craft Help thread, @TheMightyAz! I hope it does eventually become its own workshop sub!)

I definitely follow more of an 'outside in' style. The first draft gets my story down, the second draft deals with major issues with plot/characters, and the third draft is a close, line by line edit/revision. I try to keep an inner editor tuned in during the first two drafts, but I don't let my inability to craft a good sentence in a particular moment stop my writing in those first two drafts. I am one of those who just needs to get the informational part down, correctly, before I dive deep into a word craft mode.

I assume my bad first draft writing will continue to improve with years and practice, but I think I will always be a bit limited in how high the quality of my first draft writing will be. My headspace is wildly different depending on the day and circumstances, so what I can expect from myself differs day by day. Some days I can get my editor to tune in while I also create content, but more often, I find more success if I just get the stuff down in all it's poorly written glory and fix it en masse later when I can hyperfocus on getting into an editor mode. This leads to very inconsistent quality in my first drafts - some sections needing major work while others only need a little tweaking. But I actually REALLY enjoy being able to hyperfocus on the writing craft, so 'outside in' brings my brain joy through progress. :)
That is probably the best approach in many cases. It's what I'll be doing once the year is out. I just wanted to double down on strengthening my craft so that when I do let it flow, I'll have less to worry about in the edits.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I just wanted to double down on strengthening my craft so that when I do let it flow, I'll have less to worry about in the edits.
That makes complete sense to me, and I'm sure your novel writing will reflect the efforts of your year of focused practice! I definitely notice my inner editor waking with more ease the more I overtly practice.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
That makes complete sense to me, and I'm sure your novel writing will reflect the efforts of your year of focused practice! I definitely notice my inner editor waking with more ease the more I overtly practice.
It is just down the personal approach really. I didn't want to spend years writing novels and learning the basics of writing craft when I could distil that practice down to a year by writing short pieces and experimenting with different things in each. I'm basically trying to fast track and make up for all those years I wasted.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Nothing in my life goes in a straight line. Writing wise I'm all over the place. I get chunks of work that I vomit onto the page and it stays more or less the same all through the process. Other bits are changed beyond recognition. Something either works or doesn't. Sometimes I have something I really like but it just doesn't work. Sometimes I sit back and think, God, did I really write something that good? Mostly it is that'll do. Still, I no longer end up with a screen covered in Tippex.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Nothing in my life goes in a straight line. Writing wise I'm all over the place. I get chunks of work that I vomit onto the page and it stays more or less the same all through the process. Other bits are changed beyond recognition. Something either works or doesn't. Sometimes I have something I really like but it just doesn't work. Sometimes I sit back and think, God, did I really write something that good? Mostly it is that'll do. Still, I no longer end up with a screen covered in Tippex.
That's a nice feeling isn't it, especially when you're at a low and drag it out to read a few months later ... but then you read on ...
 
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