Flaws in the Gems   9 comments

Aug 24, 2020

Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time?

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Either-or, black-or-white … you know me, I’m not going to answer with Door #? because, wow, short article.

Letting the Characters Lead

I don’t really think about much when writing my first draft. I have a destination in mind and it’s usually a story my characters have told me while washing dishes or filing. I invite them to run to that destination and then I just try to keep up while they tell me what happens along the way. There’s lots of flaws – passive voice sentences, some misspellings, a lot of typos, scenes that are described in bare detail, dialogue that goes on too long, sometimes scenes out of sequence. Oh, yeah, there’s plenty of flaws and I’m aware of some and don’t care about others.

Looping Back

Occasionally, I’ll get stuck as I write and I have to go back and read what came before to decide what comes next and I become well aware of the flaws at that point. Sometimes I’ll correct them and sometimes I’ll let them go until self-editing. I might append a note so I will come back to it remembering what it was I didn’t like when I read it. I know the writing advice that says “don’t edit until you’ve finished the first draft,” but I think I’ve made it clear that I believe writing rules are helpful until they become dogmas and then they are meant to be broken.

Finding the Hidden Gem

If I’m lucky, I discover a flaw that is actually a gem. That’s how I end up with turns of phrase. I’ll mis-phrase something and then when I go back to edit I’ll pause and go — whoa, that’s — yeah, that’s good — so I keep it. The series name “What If Wasn’t” was such an error. I kept circling back to it during editing. There was just something about it that seemed wrong and, yet, it so succinctly summed up Peter’s life. When more of the series is published, it will make sense to readers.

So the answer to the question is — I try to stay focused on writing the first draft and not get distracted by editing, but sometimes, I have to reread a section and I might or might not fix errors I’m aware of. I’m not into dogmatic rules telling me how to write. My writing process is my own and it serves me well when I allow it to.

Am I conscious of the flaws as I write them? Sometimes. I often know that I need to improve a section of writing before publication, but then everything I write will be open to my scrutiny when I self-edit — just as if I were editing someone else’s book.

I’ve become less tolerant of errors as I’ve put my writing into the public eye. I work much harder to edit them out before publication. I don’t try to get everything down perfectly on the first draft because I’m letting my characters talk to me at that point, but yes, if I see an error and it really bothers me, I’ll fix it — or at least give it good consideration.

Posted August 24, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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9 responses to “Flaws in the Gems

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  1. Counting on characters is a good thing. What I discover going back is that they have conversations or situations where either too much is assumed or too much shown. There’s always the temptation to leave the ‘splained motivation in but that onbe part of your brain is in there saying “DON’T TELEGRAPH” Sometimes it’s a simple word or an excess phrase. My drafts are weedy gardens. Not sloppy, just yo, where’d y’all gert off to there?

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  2. I spot ‘gems’ when I read through, usually things I don’t remember writing.


  3. You may be looking for flaws in the gems, I’m more likely to think I’m hunting for gems in the flaws.


  4. I have to edit every chapter as I write it. I can’t do it any other way. I suppose I break all those writing rules you mention, but it works for me.


  5. Nice, Lela, I wish I could do this and let a problem area go with a note. I just can’t. It would simply drive me crazy to try to do that. I would love to get the draft done and then edit, but I have to bow to my nature.


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