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What Do You Do When You Finish a Story?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by MFreako, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. MFreako

    MFreako Troubadour

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    I'm curious to hear what people have to say about this.

    Usually when I write, my creative mind works overtime. I get all these ideas that have nothing to do with the story I'm writing, get super excited about them, to the point it's hard not to leave the current story unfinished and just plough on into the next one. Thankfully I'm at a point where I have enough self-discipline to confine myself to one story at a time (just doesn't work for me otherwise).

    I'd like to hear other people's processes, though. Do you only work on one story at any given time? Or a bunch?
    Do you finish the first draft of a story, start on another, then come back to edit the first? Or do you only move on when you have a final draft?
     
  2. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Writing the end of a story (first draft) is no big thing for me. It's jut the start of the next phase - editing. So I send it off and write something else. I always have multiple books on the go at once.

    Publishing is something completely different. By the time the books been through multiple edits, cover design, blurb work, formatting, all the rest I'm utterly knackered. I really truly hate editing and for weeks at a time while I'm going through the edits I'll have been focussing on nothing else, which is completely unnatural to me. So by the time I hit that publish button I'm actually sick of it, and never want to see that book again. Just thinking of it makes me feel ill. I also usually find myself unable to write - publishing tears the joy out of me for writing. And I end up in a writing funk that can last days.

    In the end though I'll return to the writing as long as I don't think about what I just did.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  3. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I'm currently mid-stream, first draft on four(?) short stories. All in different worlds. All in different stages of being worked on. One of them has stalled until I figured out the back story for one of the main characters, how she got in the situation she's in and how she'll react to being out of it. (So I guess that would count as the fifth story I'm working on.) Another short story has turned into a novel length idea.

    I'm in the revision/editing process for two short stories and one novel, one of which I may edit until the day I die as I'm in the fifth(?) set of rewrites and edits for the story. (I actually kind of hate it now. But I need to figure out the best way to mesh everything together in under 8,000 words and it's a lot of story that had to be taken out, rewritten, and put back in. A lot of the meshing is getting transitions right and making it seamless again.)

    I get a slew of stuff ready for editing at once, so when I think my eyes are going to bleed from reading one thing fifteen times in a row to get rid of passive voice and adverbs and such, I can move onto another story for a while and rest from that one. Otherwise, I tend to over-edit and turn narrative voice into dry, passionless prose that I could turn into a formal report instead of a story.

    I have to have multiple projects going so I don't get stalled. I've found that self-doubt and creative apathy come from not having something I can work on at all times. I've also found that not all projects are created equally. Sometimes I need a story that's cued up to the conflict scenes, and others I need to just explore who and what my characters are.
     
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  4. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

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    Being somewhat of a perfectionist - ish - I hate to leave some work undone, and I relish in constantly adding details, even those with little or no importance for the story. Most of the time, I end up building a huge context and universe around the plots of my stories, even though little of it will have an actual role in the tale. Thus, i tend to build wide, complicated universes, for the sake of obsession over detail. However, this doesn't mean I can't get drawn to other focus points. More often than not, an idea with no connection at all with my current work will spring in my mind, and inspire me to try something new. This exact thing happened two weeks ago when, after going over some highly elaborated sci-fi comics and browsing through some old Warhammer 40K books, I thought about creating my own sci-fi universe, while in the middle of my medieval fantasy project. I ended up putting a pause on the sci-fi deal seeing as it was slowing down my former project, but I'll probably pick it up later.

    In the end, I happen to be drawn to both details and some random, inspiration points, spawning here and there. But with some focus, it doesn't block me from having the job done. And besides, constructing complicated and vast universe isn't that much of a problem : i'll just end up writing many books, and many more novels than expected, taking place in this specific setting.

    You know, Tolkien style...
     
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  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I generally work on writing and editing one big project, like a novel, at a time, but I allow myself to write a few short stories at the same time if the muse strikes. But the short stories only get worked on once I've done my allotted work on the novel first. Also while I'm writing and editing a novel, I work on fleshing out ideas for the next novel, so it's ready to go when I finish the first.
     
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  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I put it away for a while ( a couple months at least), and entertain myself with short stories, challenges, or anything else that takes my mind off the story I just finished.

    When I'm good and ready to look at it again, I take it out and give the whole thing a read. No notes, no fixes... I just read through typos and roll my eyes when I see plot holes or inconsistencies. I read the whole damn thing, beginning to end.

    Then... I begin my target editing process, working from the biggest items, to increasingly smaller things. Begin by noting which are your strongest scenes. Make a list. For instance:

    Strongest scenes:

    1. Caged Maiden's escape from the dungeon.
    2. When Reaver fights off the guys pursuing them.
    3. When the ranger, Ankari speaks to the king.
    4. The end scene where Phil the Drill avenges his Sidekick's death and kills the bad guy.

    Then.. write down the weakest scenes. When you analyze the weaker scenes, ask yourself: Does this scene further the plot? Does it help us to get to know the MC in a meaningful way? Does it help to know more about the world or situation? If you say no to two or one of those questions, think about how you can make the scene better. Can you help us to know more about the character? Sometimes a switch of scenery can help that. Sometimes it takes adding humor, a surprise, awkwardness, or rudeness.

    After you've made some notes about what would help each of those weaker scenes, then look at which ones you answered no to all three. Consider cutting them entirely.

    Once you have a list of scenes to cut and those you definitely want to keep, rewrite the ones that need a lot of work. Just rework them if you can or scratch and rewrite them as needed. Sometimes it's easier to start entirely over, keeping a concept for what happens but completely changing how it goes down.

    Once that's done, and all your "scenes" are "strong", move onto smaller things, like revamping paragraphs, tightening dialogues, clarifying, and cutting the fat.

    After a good couple months of hard work, I'm proud to look at a complete second draft manuscript. :)
     
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  7. Bansidhe

    Bansidhe Minstrel

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    I usually go back and revise another story, or otherwise take a break from writing until I can shake the finished story out of my noggin. Otherwise I won't have perspective during the revision process. At any given moment I'm usually drafting one thing while revising something else--but the bulk of my current portfolio consists of novellas, which take me about 90 days to develop, draft, and polish for submission. But before I submit I send the finished draft off to BETA readers, so I work on something else while I'm waiting.
     
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