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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Evolution and Fatal Flaws

I've always been a fan of writing a first draft all the way through before I change anything. I probably always will be.

A full rough draft let's me see all the possibilities for a novel, all the many branches, all the characters I need to foreshadow.

It also leaves me disgusted with my lack of writing ability, repulsed by the shallow characters, and disenchanted with the novel. Like the plot-whore I am, I chase after a new bright, shiny idea and write that down. This leaves me with piles of three-quarters finished, or fully finished, novels littering the bottom of my hard drive like so many dead bugs.

At last count I had eight finished novels wallowing in the cess pits, and innumerable semi-started novels twitching to death without ever being finished.

This isn't a good place to be.

I'm evolving. I'm trying to learn to edit. It's a necessary step in the writing process if I ever want to make my novels fly.

The scariest part of editing, for me, is the huge mob of chaotic words lurking in wait for me when I open a rough draft. It's not a few words, or even a polite mob of words, it's 80,000 words attacking all at once. That's a small army!

With Twisted Metal I'm taking a new approach. Rather than pound out the whole 75k rough draft in a month, and face a ratty snarl the next month, I'm writing in chunks.

In February I wrote just over 25k. I spent March editing that mess. It's better now, cleaner, not perfect, but improving. In April I'm writing the next 30k. Twisted Metal has a story line that this works well with. The action is divided by gaps of several months or years between the acts, and that makes it easier to find a break point to edit.

And since this post has already run longer than anticipated, I'll save my other fatal flaw for tomorrow. See you then!

Bird evolution image found here with appropriate citations. Thank you for the use. The Lion is a sketch by Rembrandt, found on Wikipedia, and used under Fair Use laws.


  1. I'm like you. Editing scares me. I've yet to conquer that mountain with any project of mine.

    Good luck with your edits!

  2. I love your tag for this: "Editing warfare". Perfect description!

    I'm at the same basic place you are - countless unfinished novels and 5 finished drafts sitting around (8 if you count the ones I'm finally going to edit). This is my year for learning the art of revisions...and so far, it's a huge mess. Enlightening, but still a mess.

    Sounds like a good process you've got started there - writing in chunks seems like a much saner idea. Good luck - I'll look forward to hearing how that goes over time...

  3. Yes but writing in parts means betas will chase you to hurry up with the rest!!!