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Quirks that work (1 Viewer)

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
Do you have any little techniques you've learned that help the writing/editing/rewriting/brainstorming processes? Not big things, just those little techniques that help you do something a little easier or better.

One of mine is to read my completed story sentence by sentence from back to front. It's a tip I read a long time ago that I still use for proof reading a story. It work particularly well for finding SPaG errors and clunky sentences. By reading out of sequence you don't get involved in the story and can focus on each sentence as a unique entity. It can work for novels too, but you do it at the scene, or chapter level rather than reading the entire book backwards.


WF Veterans
That shows a lot of dedication.

I have difficultly changing anything, for fear the new passage will be worse than the old. So I simply save my draft and change the name. Then I can make my changes freely and go back if I want to. But I almost never go back, it's mostly just a trick I play on my brain.

Jack of all trades

Senior Member
Reading it aloud to someone and making the adjustments that reflect what I say that differs from what's written. Reading aloud to myself is not as effective.

I, too, save to a new draft before making significant edits. Just in case.

Adding : Another thing I do is to create a separate timeline document as I'm writing, so I can see at a glance what happened when.
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Senior Member
I write on the computer but print what I've written after each day. Before starting my writing for the day, I like to quickly read through the printout of what I wrote the day before to refresh myself on the story, jot a few notes or corrections for future me (when I go back and do more serious edits), then hop back in.

I found Jeff Gerke's writing books very helpful when it comes to little tricks. "Plot Versus Character" and "Write Your Novel in 30 Days." Also "Plot & Structure" by James Scott Bell has a lot of fun brainstorming ideas.


Senior Member
I pace. I spend a lot of time up and walking and talking to myself about the story. Just getting out of your chair can shake a lot of things loose. And I review a lot. I re-read the first chapter before starting the second. I re-read the first five chapters before starting on the sixth. And all of it before the tenth, etc. If I'm losing steam on a work, diving back into it again and again can remind you why you were excited about the story in the first place.


Senior Member
I mostly get my ideas from doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or clothes and long road trips, which gives my brain room to outline or flesh an idea even further. If I can't do that, I settle for playing this game in my phone called Traffic Racer which is an endless driving game. I find it an okay simulation for a road trip and it helps me put my fingers on the keys afterwards, so it works.
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Senior Member
I find reading helps. Not necessarily reading fiction, but reading non-fiction works on history, religion, politics that can get my brain working and helps to write.

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Like Cephus I do doublebacks.

Characters are weakest at the beginning because you don;t know them.
You only just met.
So I write a hundred pages, until I really know the characters, and I go back to the beginning and apply that where they are the weakest.
Makes for better characters.
Also, those first 7 pages must be the best or no one will get past browsing the book.


Senior Member
Short stories I do in a single draft - I periodically go over what I've written and make edits on the fly. By the time I'm done, one more read-through and some spelling or grammar fixes, and I call it done.

This does not work in novella-length or longer works. Those I edit chapter by chapter, jumping randomly or in specific patterns one to the next - never in order, beginning to end.

Re-reading what I've written out of order is kind of like jumping into the middle of a show I haven't watched in awhile - I have to remember what happened and what comes next, who these people are and why these things are important. It helps me keep the narrative in mind. My last set of edits will be done in order beginning to end, to ensure everything is consistent.

Brainstorming... Varies? I don't really want to admit that most of my characters start off as a blank document with a phrase like "Prince Zuko... In SPAAACCE!" before I start developing them.

But I've already said too much.


WF Veterans
When brainstorming, I like to try to write snippets of scenes I'm thinking about - like I was making a movie clip - if any way 'into' the scene jumps out at me while I'm figuring out things on a broader scale. A few hundred words tends to be enough. It's good exercise, keeps the process feeling mixed and flowing together rather than super-strictly segmented into 'brainstorm then write then edit etc.', and when I do come to draft properly I have snippets I can flick back to and consider working with or leaving behind.

Brainstorming is the roughest sketch a writer can do, so I like to try to tackle both the macro and the micro at once while my ideas feel fresh.


Senior Member
When starting a new story I like to get as much information onto the page as possible. Once I've finished I like to wait a few days before going through and editing. Usually, I get my ideas from reading or watching TV, but sometimes I get ideas while I'm in the shower. I always carry a notebook with me in case I get ideas while I am away from my computer.


WF Veterans
For me the best thing is to put the story away for a while (at least a couple months) before I read it over. That helps me get a fresh perspective.

When I can't do that, I find changing font helps - often making it quite a bit bigger, but also serif if I wrote in sans serif, or vice versa.

I've never printed anything out to edit on paper - it just seems like an extra step, because when I find an issue I want to fix it right then, not mark it on the paper and then come back to it. I guess I could read on paper while sitting next to my computer and make the changes on the screen, but then that seems like a waste of paper...


Senior Member
When editing, I always use text-to-voice software to hear it back to me. It helps me catch errors that my eyes sometimes miss.

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