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What do you look for? (1 Viewer)

KatPC

Senior Member
I would love to base this question on a novel, but this will most likely be too long and varied and may prove confusing, so all the questions are based around short stories or novellas.

Having completed a few short stories and a novella, I find my early works in editing not efficient and lacking in structure. Before, having finished my first draft I would jump full on into second draft, reading paragraphs as I go, deleting a few words, adding a few more, halting to change whole paragraphs or sections before moving further down the page. Having reached the end, I would go save it as second draft and then go again, checking for errors, amending more until I finished the third draft and deem it acceptable to show others.

This I find isn't very effective. A few months later and I would revisit a work noting many mistakes, structurally issues, grammatical problems, with a less than perfect flow and the style not consistent, thus it is obvious there are issues with my process, or maybe I have improved?!

To amend my previous routine, I have started to read the first draft as a whole, making notes on a pad, jotting down any mistakes or comments, all the way to the end. Then I apply the necessary changes, no matter how long this process takes and save this as draft 2 and repeat the same process before showing it to others until I'm satisfied with it. Is this a better process and in line with others? I openly confess that my writing level is par at best, lower when my confidences are down, but I hold a great passion for creating, and hold many reasons why writing is so important to me, thus the need to improve, is one to assure that I can be a good writer, if I am willing to open my eyes, ask for help and learn from others.

In between drafts what do you look for? Do you follow a routine? Is my procedure adequate?
How long do you take between drafts? Is it one continually process? Do you finish first draft, leave it for a few weeks and go back for draft 2 then leave it a while again before draft 3? I don't have a great amount of free time, having 2 kids and working 6 days full time really limits my time, but I always make time for my writing. In my hiatus from writing, I have been reading and amending works, spying a lot in here, but how long should you take on a short before you feel 'too close' to the story to notice any mistakes? I ask this because there was a time when I spent 2 hours on a chapter in the morning, then jumping into work, only to return back home later, and still be only a few lines down from last night, having read the same passage a few more times. With limited time, and not great first drafts, do anyone have any advice? Or is this being 'too close' to the story not exactly accurate or true?

Thank you for reading.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
It sounds odd, but I actually find re-reading after I've had a couple of glasses of wine a handy shortcut. You're seeing it through a subtly different mindset. The trick is to resist the temptation to edit there and then. Jut make notes and revisit those notes next day.
 

Digital Dive Labs

Senior Member
This is something I've adapted from my other creative hobbies. I divide it all into task-oriented mindsets and work my way down in order of importance (plot > word flow > grammar). I don't know if it's very efficient but it has worked well for me mainly by giving me a sense of structure to follow.

1, rough draft - This is the concepting phase. No idea is worse than one not written, so it all comes out here. If I get stuck on a section, I summarize it. I use all-caps to distinguish summaries and other rough stuff like unnamed characters.

2, working draft - Flesh out those summaries. Give characters names if they don't have one yet. This isn't a revision pass so much as a quick dust-off to turn it into a legible (in the literal sense, not publisher-ready sense) 'square one' I can revert to if necessary. It's simply what I've accepted as my authorial intent in its raw form, obviously in need of refinement but true to my goals and desires.

3, high pass revision - I focus strictly on paving plot holes, ensuring character arcs resolve, and other high-level concepts. Small things don't matter. Why focus on grammar when you may redo the entire paragraph in the next pass? Whether or not my story is cohesive: that's all I worry about right now.

4, mid pass - Toss out the wide-tooth comb for something finer. Look for satisfying word flow. Persuasiveness of dialogue. Am I repeating the same word/phrase three times in one paragraph, or neglecting to properly refer to the subjects and objects of the sentence? I'm not focusing on grammar yet, per se, because I'm still changing words and sentences around to read more naturally or land more convincingly. More importantly, I don't allow myself to think about story anymore. That's locked in. Me the Plot Critic worried about that nonsense and he was in a better mindset for it.

5, low level pass - It's almost done. Story is set, prose is persuasive. Time to worry about grammar and spelling! This is that wonderful time when I look up the difference between 'therefor' and 'therefore' and do a word search of the entire document to ensure all 462 instances of it are correct. And once it's correct, I don't worry about it anymore, because Me the Wordsmith was focusing on whether it was a satisfying word choice. Me the Grammar Critic is only here to make sure it's spelled, punctuated, and used correctly.

It sounds like you're already on what I'd consider my 5th and final pass, except you're doing it on repeat. We can all relate to tweaking an unsatisfactory section at least three or four times, but if we don't commit to a lock-in process, we're mentally leaving it open forever, which can interfere with our sense of progress and accomplishment.

Are you content with everything else? Plot? Characters?
I openly confess that my writing level is par at best
I wholeheartedly disagree. I've only been here a week and can't help but notice the effort and consideration you place in your writing. You're well above par, if my opinion counts for anything.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
It sounds like a lot of your issues are in the proofread, and that's an eternal issue ... and it's one I studied.

Most of the things overlooked when editing/proofing come from simply the process of reading. You either become involved in the material or bored with the material, and either one causes you to overlook things.

You mentioned grammatical issues.

You can't read the material as you edit or proof. You have to evaluate each sentence as a separate entity, disconnected from everything else. You find some suggestions as bizarre as reading the content backwards one sentence at a time. Being a software developer, I wrote an app to separate each sentence into a separate record in a database, and then I proofread by having the app present one sentence at a time, at random. It guarantees I only inspect each sentence for itself and only itself. But with or without that tool, that's what is required.

My process once I've finished the first draft is to:
1. Do a read-through to satisfy myself I haven't made any mistakes in the plotting, and of course if I notice typos (etc) during that read-through I correct them.
2. Load the manuscript into my app and go through it one random sentence at a time. When done the app creates a file incorporating any corrections I made.
3. A final read-through.

So far I've had little success interesting other authors in using my app, because it is WORK. LOL For a 100K word manuscript, it takes a full week to examine it sentence by sentence, responsibly. But I live by it.
 
Last edited:

KatPC

Senior Member
I'd like so thank you to everyone who has replied to my threads, reading my long posts, giving up your time to help and advise - Thank you.

I have a great passion for writing, many a time it is for cathartic reasons, but if it helps calms the mind, soothe the emotions in this ever critical world, then I feel there is no harm. I am sure everyone can relate to the facts that in creating your own stories, you part away from this world. You make your own characters, design backdrops and situations that all requires dedication, hard work, a great deal of planning and attention, and that in itself (for me) leads to a more stable person, that you can see flaws in this real world, draw inspiration from nothing, understanding feelings and situations because you are a creator.

In my journey I know that to create is not Writing, it is part of a process needed for this invention to become something that others can appreciate and admire. I can easily make stories for myself, but it is only through sharing that people can enjoy the heady mix of emotions that you want to employ, and to do so it is not about creating an interesting story, but finding your own work routine so those thoughts in your head can be transferred beautifully onto the page.

This is something I've adapted from my other creative hobbies. I divide it all into task-oriented mindsets and work my way down in order of importance (plot > word flow > grammar). I don't know if it's very efficient but it has worked well for me mainly by giving me a sense of structure to follow.

1, rough draft - This is the concepting phase. No idea is worse than one not written, so it all comes out here. If I get stuck on a section, I summarize it. I use all-caps to distinguish summaries and other rough stuff like unnamed characters.

2, working draft - Flesh out those summaries. Give characters names if they don't have one yet. This isn't a revision pass so much as a quick dust-off to turn it into a legible (in the literal sense, not publisher-ready sense) 'square one' I can revert to if necessary. It's simply what I've accepted as my authorial intent in its raw form, obviously in need of refinement but true to my goals and desires.

3, high pass revision - I focus strictly on paving plot holes, ensuring character arcs resolve, and other high-level concepts. Small things don't matter. Why focus on grammar when you may redo the entire paragraph in the next pass? Whether or not my story is cohesive: that's all I worry about right now.

4, mid pass - Toss out the wide-tooth comb for something finer. Look for satisfying word flow. Persuasiveness of dialogue. Am I repeating the same word/phrase three times in one paragraph, or neglecting to properly refer to the subjects and objects of the sentence? I'm not focusing on grammar yet, per se, because I'm still changing words and sentences around to read more naturally or land more convincingly. More importantly, I don't allow myself to think about story anymore. That's locked in. Me the Plot Critic worried about that nonsense and he was in a better mindset for it.

5, low level pass - It's almost done. Story is set, prose is persuasive. Time to worry about grammar and spelling! This is that wonderful time when I look up the difference between 'therefor' and 'therefore' and do a word search of the entire document to ensure all 462 instances of it are correct. And once it's correct, I don't worry about it anymore, because Me the Wordsmith was focusing on whether it was a satisfying word choice. Me the Grammar Critic is only here to make sure it's spelled, punctuated, and used correctly.

It sounds like you're already on what I'd consider my 5th and final pass, except you're doing it on repeat. We can all relate to tweaking an unsatisfactory section at least three or four times, but if we don't commit to a lock-in process, we're mentally leaving it open forever, which can interfere with our sense of progress and accomplishment.
Your break down was very useful and insightful, it made a lot of sense breaking things down into phases and once complete, not to return to change and edit, but focus on the next phase. I will look to incorporate a similar model. thank you.

Are you content with everything else? Plot? Characters?
If you have been a person always looking up, you are never sure if everything is good enough, it is made harder when there are many different voices offering differing opinions with varied levels of experience and know how that a lot words don't collaborate., with my novel I am 100% satisfied, with most of my other works I feel confident enough to write that there are no glaring errors and that the characters reside in my mind. :)
I wholeheartedly disagree. I've only been here a week and can't help but notice the effort and consideration you place in your writing. You're well above par, if my opinion counts for anything.
That is great praise. I will take kind words as hope in moving forward.
It sounds like a lot of your issues are in the proofread, and that's an eternal issue ... and it's one I studied.

Most of the things overlooked when editing/proofing come from simply the process of reading. You either become involved in the material or bored with the material, and either one causes you to overlook things.
Being too involved is an issue, and for my last piece (after my first draft) I have not re-read it for a few weeks, instead jumping on here to gain some advice.

You mentioned grammatical issues.

You can't read the material as you edit or proof. You have to evaluate each sentence as a separate entity, disconnected from everything else. You find some suggestions as bizarre as reading the content backwards one sentence at a time.
I will do my best to adopt this, this is a big weakness I have.
Being a software developer, I wrote an app to separate each sentence into a separate record in a database, and then I proofread by having the app present one sentence at a time, at random. It guarantees I only inspect each sentence for itself and only itself. But with or without that tool, that's what is required.

My process once I've finished the first draft is to:
1. Do a read-through to satisfy myself I haven't made any mistakes in the plotting, and of course if I notice typos (etc) during that read-through I correct them.
2. Load the manuscript into my app and go through it one random sentence at a time. When done the app creates a file incorporating any corrections I made.
3. A final read-through.

So far I've had little success interesting other authors in using my app, because it is WORK. LOL For a 100K word manuscript, it takes a full week to examine it sentence by sentence, responsibly. But I live by it.

Thank you, it has given me much food for thought , I certainly will be changing my current processes.
 
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