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Question about drafting

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by SamYellek, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. SamYellek

    SamYellek Dreamer

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    I'm not sure if this has been asked before and just buried in the long list of threads but here it goes.

    I need some advice on drafting my story. I don't know if I should write out my entire story as a single rough draft, and then go back and make changes and edits and such. Or if I should keep doing as I am, which is writing out a few chapters, going back and editing one chapter, write out a few more, go back and edit a couple earlier ones, write a couple more and so on. I could​really use some tips and advice, pros and cons of either method. Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
    DragonOfTheAerie likes this.
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I vote for writing the whole thing out and editing later. Its the best way to assure you will get to the end, further, sometimes its hard to know what to edit until you hit the end of the story.

    However, I find that my own routine is to write something, finish for the night, and when I return, warm up by editing it just a little ;)
     
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    This is tricky and personal. I'm a pendulum drafter in that I go back and forth between writing new stuff and changing old stuff, but there is a limit to how much I change. I'm not going for perfection. I mostly change or add in big plot stuff but don't don't worry too much about pretty prose or grammar.
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Do what ever you're comfortable with as long as you're finishing stories. If you never finish anything, then you probably want to try finishing before editing.

    To me there's are drawbacks to editing as you go. You may spend days editing a section to perfection and then realise you have to change something in the story and that perfectly edited section now has to be tossed into the trash heap. All that time wasted.

    Also it may make you reluctant to throw something out because you spent so much time editing it. This may cause you to try to shoehorn it in to the detriment of the story.

    For me, I found that it's best to finish the first draft before I go back and change stuff. I find it saves time, and I find I approach the editing on surer footing because I've already seen the story unfold to the end and can see the consequences of changing something more clearly.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    How many chapters have you written? If it's, say 20 or 30, then keep on as you are. In fact, keep on as you are doing until you start to lose your way. No sense in fixing the process until it is broken.
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  6. This is really your choice. However, it is often much easier to see what needs to be edited once you have a full rough draft written out. Your current method will yield you somewhat of a cleaner first draft, but it won't spare you having to redraft once you finish. you see so much more that needs fixed on a straight reread.

    Also, you need to commit to actually finishing. If you don't move forward until previous chapters are "fixed" you'll never get any farther. If you just want to clean up chapters as you go and make sure they're not too crazy, that works, but if your goal is to have every chapter in excellent condition before moving forward, you won't move forward at all.

    I kinda use a combination of both methods, myself.
     
    Michael K. Eidson and pmmg like this.
  7. Same. I catch stuff I want to change just by rereading to warm up.
     
  8. CF WELBURN

    CF WELBURN Dreamer

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    As someone who has tried both ways, I'd choose option A for 3 reasons:

    Firstly, it means you have a higher chance of actually finishing the book as opposed to getting bogged down in a few "well written" chapters.

    Secondly, as a story develops it can become organic; natural for new and unexpected ideas to surface. Some of these might not occur until the end and may have repercussions throughout the whole book, thus all that laborious mid-write editing will have to be changed anyway.

    Thirdly, for my own enjoyment. If I feel I'm involved in the story and things are moving along, it inspires me. If I've spent weeks going around in circles over the same scene it can start to feel that my 'valuable' writing time is not being exploited.

    That being said, even though I try to write the first draft through in one go, I may work differently on the 2nd and 3rd drafts, tweaking and polishing accordingly.

    Good luck!
     
    DragonOfTheAerie likes this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I will never work through a full draft straight through. Simply impossible for me. I won't make it past a writing session without reading what I've written, LOL. If something needs changed, I go back and change it. I clean up writing. By cleaning up writing, there is less cleaning up to do on stuff yet written. I am a constant tinkerer.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The Constant Tinkerer must surely be a character in someone's story some day.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Is that similar to the constant gardener?

    [​IMG]
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  12. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    This is a personal thing. There's no right answer. Everybody has a different way of doing this.

    First drafts suck, and I know this and I'm at peace with it, so I chose to use it to my advantage. My first draft of my sequel was absolute bullshit. It had a handful of scenes that were two or three lines in all caps and in present tense -- THIS GUY DOES THIS THING TO THIS OTHER GUY. AND THEN THIS OTHER THING HAPPENS -- and some were just pictures that I'd pasted in from Tumblr or DeviantArt giving either a scene, or a feeling, or a landscape. It's important to finish the story, though. Know where and how (and WHY!) the story ends, and then get there at all costs. After that, you can revise, rewrite, or just burn the damned thing. Whatever. Just finish.

    I do successive drafts as full rewrites, starting with a blank page. This is arguably a form of insanity and I don't recommend it, nor do I promote this as the "only" way to write. It's just what works for me. I love the look of a blank page and the feel of white space below what I'm typing. It feels like skydiving. I know that sounds weird, but it really does.

    I rarely copy and paste from one draft to another; however, I will go back to something that I like in a previous draft and then retype it, refining the voicing and the phrasing as I put it down. I'm finishing Draft Three and about to start on Draft Four, probably in a week, maybe two. I'm hoping that Draft Five will be good enough to send to my editor, but I'll probably fiddle with it until it screams for mercy, first.

    You're making art. There's no right or wrong, here.
     
  13. Huh. I like the idea of pasting pics in to convey feelings or settings. Microsoft Word does awful things with formatting when you stick pictures in, though.

    I'm doing my second draft as a straight rewrite as well. Not by design, I just can't salvage much. (First draft was utterly incoherent word vomit.) And I like clean new paper to mess up instead of screwing around with previous regurgitated word vomit. The second draft is coming out better, cleaner, and more coherent than the last, though still far from greatness. The third draft won't be a straight rewrite hopefully, lol.
     
    Malik likes this.
  14. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    You could have left that sentence at "Microsoft Word does awful things to formatting".
     
  15. Lol. True though. Thats why I make outlines and notes in longhand instead of screwing with multilevel bulleted lists. They're a nightmare.
     
  16. Helen

    Helen Sage

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    Experiment with both methods. You'll find pros and cons in each and choose the method that works for you.

    My preference is to do the whole thing before editing.
     
  17. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Writer's personality test... I am a constant tinkerer waypoint writer, heh heh.

    Oddly enough, I don't think I've actually seen the Constant Gardener... odd, since I like both leads.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm starting to like the idea of a constant tinkerer. He would be a magician with OCD. He would be forever tinkering with spells. He would also have a laundry list of phobias and behavioral tics, but would be faced with a necessary task that would challenge them all.

    Would work for a novel, but could work also as a supporting character.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  19. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

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    The answer is always whatever works best for you.

    I know, not helpful.

    If you looking for other people's methods to try a few different approaches, the one I arrived at after multiple attempts at different approaches is to block out my story with one sentence headers of each scene then go back an fill in the scenes 1 by 1, usually in chronological order unless I can't wait to write a specific scene or there's some other good reason, like following one character's story beginning to end to stay in character. I later learned this is similar to JK Rowling's approach - not that I would compare myself to JK Rowling other than to say we both have vowels in our name.

    I've found this approach gives me a good overview of the whole story to have in mind while I write. It also makes changes to unwritten scenes easier - a lot of times I'll be writing a scene and realize it will impact something in the future. In that case, I'll just jump ahead and put a note, maybe even write out a few sentences, and then go back and pick up where I was.

    This would drive some people nuts and flat out would not work if you're a pantser like Stephen King. I'm not going to compare myself to Stephen King, either, except to say we approach things differently... and have had varying levels of success. However, there's guys like GRRM who are pretty successful in their own right and they approach things differently. Of course, John Grisham is a hardcore plotter and has also found success.

    Get insights from others. Try different approaches. Do what works best for you, your style, and your brain. Keep evolving. Have fun.
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
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