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Im just kind of lost

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by MRAcadence, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. MRAcadence

    MRAcadence Acolyte

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    First of all this is my first post on this site, found it today and thought it was pretty neat.
    So i have been working on a book for a few years now, never really sat down and wrote for long periods of time, just kind of wrote chapters here and there. So for the last year or so i have been putting off editing the book and have made some progress. However, i find myself reading some of the chapters and thinking, yes this is amazing people are going to love this, then sometimes im reading it and going what the hell was i thinking?

    I have not been a big person on forums or anything like that but basically i kind of want someone to read the first rough draft as is and let me know whether or not it is worth continuing. I have already poured a lot of time into this book and as much as i would love to edit it completely and have it near perfect, i would much rather turn towards something else if this is a dud.

    Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    What I'm about to say applies to myself and pretty much every other writer out there. Your first draft will stink. Without reading one word, I know yours will be pretty rough too. That's normal.

    The real work is done in the editing process. This was true for my first book, and it's still true with my third one.

    With my second book, after the first draft, I completely rewrote the second half of the book. With my first book, I edited the thing until I realize I was operating on a corpse. I had made it as good as I could have with my skill level and there was nothing left to do but put it in the drawer and walk away.

    But the experience gained was well worth my effort and is paying dividends to this day.

    Even if something is terrible, it can be saved in editing. The first cut of the original Star Wars movie was complete crap, but insert one academy award winning editor into the mix and the rest is history.

    To your question, is it worth continuing? Well, it depends on how my work you're willing to do? How much are you willing to change your story in order to make it good?

    The first draft is the easy part. Editing is easily twice as tough, maybe even three times.

    IMHO, if you plan on writing more books and/or thinking about making a go at getting published, you're going to have to practice editing. You're going to have to gain experience taking a story from concept to finished product. It doesn't matter how good the concept is. If you can't edit, it will fall short regardless.

    Like I said a good editing can turn crap into something good, but on the flip side, bad editing can turn something good into crap.
     
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I second everything PP has said.
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    Well, you could post a couple hundred words and I could almost guarantee I could rip into them with line edits... There aren't many posts, or stories in reading groups, or anything else that I can't do that too. Frankly, that goes for a lot of published work that makes me flat out groan and put the book down.

    The bigger issue for a first draft is Story. Now, that being said, iffy writing will drag a story down and drown it, but if you have confidence in the story, write, rewrite, revise it, whatever. And repeat until the writing works.

    Personally, I'm a freak. It turns out I like revising. Obsessing over details seems give me a perverse pleasure.
     
  5. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yeah, I was going to post something similar to Dem, though I'm a bit opposite of her I've noticed… I always read her posts and think "Oh crap, how did you catch that?" I catch the big stuff. She's good at the line by line stuff.

    I was going to mention that developmental editing is different then line editing. I'm into developmental editing. I look for the big stuff like "has the scene been set right at the beginning for optimal tension and emotional climax by the end?" "Does the character have an obvious scene goal/motive?" "Is the character arc effectively planned and staged in such a way that the reader can feel it without being bashed over the head with it?"

    Etc.

    Having 'beta readers' or even just early readers will help you with a lot of these issues. This is pretty much a MUST do with any manuscript, whether it is your first or fiftieth. So if you want to post a bit in the Showcase I'm sure there are many of us that will take a look at it for you!
     
  6. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    Even experienced writers make mistakes.

    If you really think that you have something worth salvaging, I would seek out a professional editor.

    For about a hundred bucks you could get a freelance developmental editor to read the manuscript and offer a valid opinion.

    Editors are better suited to finding mistakes than writers are. It's in their blood.

    Avoiding clichés, proper point of view, keeping balance between showing and telling, tense, etc...

    The more honest they are the better. Even if it hurts.

    If the comments feel brutal but you decide to stick with it,...then, yep, you've probably got what it takes to go forward.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The showcase here is the place to post very short bits. For longer excerpts you can find many critique groups online. For full beta reads, you will need to be patient. Become part of communities, whether online or local, and you will find those (be warned, it can take months and even years). Or you can find some online communities (e.g. Goodreads) where there are whole groups of people who will beta, though usually in exchange for you reading one of theirs (again be warned, that is a *lot* of work).
     
  8. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Like others have said, just get the first draft down so you have something to work with and then the fun begins. :)

    Trying to perfect things in little isolated bits as you work the first draft is counterproductive. It doesn't matter how bad the first draft is as long as all the meat and potatoes of the story is there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I'm a he, but I'm unoffended by pronouns, so no biggie, LOL. The main reason I focus on line edits is because of how irritating university level creative courses got way back when... in another lifetime... I sat in on those. It was all wax poetic about the story and none of the hard work, outside of obvious errors. Great, fine, dandy, but what about the prose? Years later in screenwriting, wow! What a different world. Story still rules, but presentation can get it killed in 5 pages or less. Tight, tight, tight, cut the blood flow off until the leg turns purple writing. But Epic Fantasy is my goal. So, I've now banged into line editing for that. Digging into a chatty, long winded, writer such as GRR Martin, reveals something: Few wasted words. More than for the screen obviously! He is on a high end of filler/sticky words perhaps, but still, he is concise in his long windedness. I think folks would find this true of most high end edited works from established writers, which is what folks are striving for.

    I try to give folks a little bit of that.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  10. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    RALLY YOURSELF! The first draft is when you can go all out in exploring your ideas! Something that we as writers often fail to see is that first drafts are in a weird way made to suck. First drafts are essentially one spewing their ideas unto the paper (or writing software).

    What matters is that you get a feel for your story, at this point don't worry about the quality of your writing! Let's your imagination overdose on empowerment!

    You can worry about the details later! What's important is that you finish the project regardless of how "shit" it ends up looking, because you'll fix it later! So go and break your keyboard with all the typing you'll be doing!

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
     
  11. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

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    In my humble opinion I would suggest to at least give it a story level edit. Don't waste your time right now picking at details. Instead, feel free to throw out entire chapters, make new sub-plots where necessary, scratch old sub-plots and delete or add characters as needed to make the story work well. Don't bog yourself down with grammar and wordsmithing, that comes later, when the required chapters have been thrown out and new ones have been added elsewhere. Otherwise all the work you put into the chapters that needs to disappear will be for naught.

    If you have trouble doing these big edits -- perhaps out of fear of ruining something as I always fear when editing -- make a backup. That way you have something to go back to if things get out of hand. Oh and name your new document "Playground" followed by the title of the book to get you in the right mood.

    As most everyone have already said. The book might not be great regardless of how much you edit it, but you'll learn something about your plotting and prose in that process which will help you in future projects. Besides, you'll never know how good it can be if you don't try.
     
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    The main thing you need to determine is what's the most important thing to you. Is your time best spent focusing on editing this work, or would you be more productive if you wrote more stories for a while? I'm only raising this as a possibility, because I wrote ten novels before I ever really learned how to edit. Sure, I tinkered with things, but honestly, it was time wasted. I didn't know the goals I should have had, so I didn't get the right kind of work done. I did more harm that good in those first edits.

    Editing is a long and very spirit-brewing process. Maybe now, my eleventh novel's rough draft is better than my first, but only marginally so. What makes the editing process easier is the experience I have in just writing. I can get right out of my own head and the things I WANT, and objectively look at the stories and their individual elements with my critique partners, and cut right to the chase. I wrote an article on editing that took me years to get down as a habit: Target Editing - A Time-Saving Strategy for Writers

    This was a strategy that worked for me as I edit my work now, but it takes a pretty comprehensive understanding of how to determine what's working and what's not. The only way I discovered those answers was by critique A LOT OF CRITIQUE, both that I gave, and received.

    I think you might want to weigh how much your story needs to be edited right now, or whether you'd do better with it if you gave that particular story a rest and maybe tried something really different for a short time, like six months. Get some more perspective, and maybe offer to crit for a few people in this community. Get some opinions on your character development and plot, without asking someone to nit pick the fine details, because those really don't matter in the first passes of editing.

    Hope that helps you some. Hang in there, we've all been in your shoes, and they're uncomfortable, horrible shoes at times. :) Best wishes.
     
    Letharg likes this.
  13. MRAcadence

    MRAcadence Acolyte

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    Wow. Thank you guys for all of the respknses, it means a lot. I don't want to sound conceded or anything but I believe my story is great plot wise, I have worked so hard to make sure that there is a lot of original ideas in there and it's not a look alike to another 30 stories. Particularly the elves and mages have had a lot of spins put on them. However I don't know how I feel about posting it for others to see because I am terrified of someone more talented going oh I can write way better than him and he has a good idea. I just haven't done this before and this thing is my baby so I'm just over caustious. I think I will mail it to myself for proof of copyright then post it on here. But I've been obsessing over trying to do line edits vs story ones.
    Essentially the chapters rarely ever exceed 10 pages and each chapter moves to a different character and works in cycles so chapter one is that guy, then by chapter 5 it gets back to his story and so one. But the overallast plot spans a lot of archs. Mages Templars 4 countries 4 conflicts barbarians an apostate an elf, hunters, etc.
     
  14. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Fear of someone stealing your ideas is natural. Everyone has them, and it doesn't go away completely.

    BUT, from my experience, ideas are cheap. You may think you have something original, but search broadly enough and you'll find something similar. I say this all the time, originality comes within you, from the way you write the story, not the ideas. Nobody can write out the idea like you can.

    I think a great example of this is the new Star Wars movie. Don't worry. No spoilers. Two different people, Lucas and Abrams, drew from the same source material, but one failed miserably while the other succeeded. One understood the magic of the ideas, the other didn't.

    In addition, if someone is more talented than you, do they really need to steal? They probably have more ideas than they know what to do with. For myself, a schmuck trying to figure this writing stuff out, I have dozens and dozens of story ideas and fragments written down in a file. I'll never be able to use them all, and still, that file gets larger.

    But as I said, your trepidation is natural. If you don't want to post bits of your story here, then find people that you can meet face to face.

    I'll leave you with a quick story I heard Neil Gaiman once tell in an interview. He said someone once came to him and said something to the effect, you're a writer, right? I have this great idea. If I give it to you, and you write it, we can split the proceeds. The guy brings Gaiman to his office where he pulls out a plain manilla envelope. Inside is a crisp sheet of paper. Neatly typed on it are the words, "Man travels back in time and kills grandfather."
     
    Ruby likes this.
  15. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    Yeah, fear of theft is basically... self defeating. Posting a chapter to get an opinion of the writing won't hurt a thing.

    It always worries me, actually, when someone says their story is great and so original. It tends to not be conceit, but delusion on the original side in particular. Worry about great story, great writing, then making it relatively original in that order. Don't worry much about getting something stolen.

    Lucas and Abrams: Exactly which one blew it? Lucas did well and blew it, 1,2,3 stunk. LOL. And not everyone really loved 4,5,6 for that matter, and not everyone who loved 4 went gaga over 5 and 6. I saw 4 about 20 times in theater as a kid, Empire, maybe 4 times, Return, maybe twice. Much of the reason Star Wars went so big wasn't great story, but that people were starved for this sort of movie and didn't know what they were hungry for. Abrams' version is rated 90+ on Rotten Tomato, critics 94%, that's good territory to be in. And from the sounds of it, a better take on the source material than 1,2,3. I actually watched 1 again the other day with my daughter... it was just as horrid as I recalled, Poor Jar Jar was a scapegoat for a bad movie. My 7 year-old who will watch 4,5,6 over and over back to back didn't even pay attention to 1. That was a revelation too on just how bad it was.
     
  16. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

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    It's pretty hard to be completely original. It might seem original to you, but it's probably a spin off of something already published, possibly even centuries ago.

    Ancient myths especially cover a vast spectrum of creative ideas.

    It doesn't matter. No one will try to take your ideas.

    It will actually be hard for you to get anybody to read it at all.

    Plus, it's sooo hard to get published!

    No worries. :)
     
  17. MRAcadence

    MRAcadence Acolyte

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    I have no problem posting it on here I just want to email it to myself or mail it myself first just to be safe lol. But Monday I will probably be able to post one. Any preferences on scene?
     
  18. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    just a thought, when you're looking for critique, you might want to think about requesting a few critters to look at a three chapter section or something. Just write a blurb for the book, and privately email the responders with the first three chapters. Anyone worth critiquing with on a regular basis will be able to give you great feedback on a small section, and that way, you aren't getting opinions you don't want, like for example, if your writing is in first person, and a critter hates first person, or felt you didn't do a great job of it, then you probably don't want to send them the rest of the novel (unless all their negative comments are really striking writer gold for you and you agree with them all). I've sent manuscripts to folks who don't read in my genre, but I know the folks, and they know me, so it's okay. But sometimes it can be really scary sending your first critique materials out to a bunch of strangers. I almost never look at anything on the showcase, because I'd prefer to take my time and write my comments in the text of a document. Other people avoid the showcase because if they make a comment about something, it can blow up in their face rather publicly.

    my best advice, if you're really looking for honest crit, is to post a small part of the manuscript with a blurb like you'd find on the book cover, and ask for volunteers to read the first three chapters. Then, based on the feedback you get, see if any of those people want to go further and trade manuscripts.

    On a side note, I'm never afraid anyones going to steal my ideas. There aren't many original ideas out there, and even if your main plot is exactly like Harry Potter, it'll feel like a totally different story, even if fourteen of us wrote the exact same plot. That's because we all have very different emphasis on different things. So I wouldn't let that hold you back from bettering yourself with the kind of motivation a solid critique can provide. Without critique, I wouldn't be half the writer I am today, and I've never stolen anyone's idea, though I've read hundreds of shorts and manuscripts. When we read for each other,we all get the benefit of the experience. It's win-win!
     
    Ruby likes this.
  19. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I don't want to derail this thread, so I'll just make this quick. Star Wars, the original one, is a great example of something that got saved in editing. Lucas's ex-wife is an academy award winning editor who contributed some of the most key moments in the series. She's the one who told Lucas to kill Ben Kenobi and that Vader should be Luke's father.

    Knowing this explains why the prequels were such a flop, and why Lucas track record isn't so hot afterwards.

    If you're interested in reading a little more about the backstory here's a link.
    The Secret History of Star Wars
     
  20. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I'm not a Lucas worshipper, so we'll call it good, LOL.
     
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