Writing Blog Part Whatever by MLR

I've been thinking about trust some, lately. Mostly in the context of, you know how when you start reading something, and immediately something about it turns you off? Then it seems like from that point on, you have two options: either you stop reading it right away and never think on it again, or you continue reading, but now with an excessively critical eye, to the point that it becomes much, much harder for the work to win you back.

It's one of those things that makes writing beginning pages to a work really difficult. Everybody always talks about the hook, but the more I think on it, the more I realize that it's less the hook that's important to me, and more the earning of trust (though maybe the two go hand in hand, to a certain extent). If I feel confident that the writer knows what he or she is doing right from the get-go, and that they aren't taking any shortcuts and are going to surprise me with something cool and unique, I will be very much more likely to end up enjoying the story. But of course, writing a hook sounds really easy compared to that.

Anyway, no updates for a while, I know. I've gotten myself stuck a couple of times, and that slowed my progress. I've been finding these passages in the original draft where the protagonist is just making his way through a place, and they drag on when reading them, and they REALLY drag on when writing them, so I've spent some time trying to think of ways to scrap all that and replace it with something more important to the plot than just "Character gets from point A to point B". This has involved some pretty major shifting around and re-writing, but I've gotten past most of that now. Finally breached the big old 1-0-0 today (that's 32000 words, according to OpenOffice). That's roughly 1/3 of the whole work, though I've managed to cut out 20 pages from the previous draft so far in editing, so it will probably end up quite a bit shorter by the end.

Just to put it out there, who else (who happens to be reading these blogs) is doing a major project right now?

Writing Blog Part Whatever

MLR

18 October 2015 at 19:56:44 MDT

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  • Link

    I'm doing a big edit, and I despise editing. Ideally this thing is going to grow by 20,000 words between the first and second drafts, and I have absolutely no idea where all these words are supposed to come from. Ugh.

    • Link

      That's interesting. Do you have a quota to meet? I usually see works getting pared down in editing, is why I ask.

      I hear people all the time say "I hate editing". I actually kind of love it. It's painstaking, yes, but it feels really good to look at the finished product after you're done. Editing seems to be what separates out the chaff in writing communities (minus the presence of any geniuses that can turn out a perfect first draft); those who wish to be true writers must first pass through the bloodying gauntlet that is careful editing, else wallow forever in mediocrity.

      • Link

        Tell me about it. Editing is vital for bloodily flensing rough drafts into something more finished. Even after several iterations, I catch things and still feel they're not finished.

        • Link

          Well, I'd like to have a novel on my hands, rather than a novella, and that means bumping it up a lot.

          I'm a concise writer; give me a minimum word count and I'l struggle up to it and stop, exhausted. Cut stuff out? HA HA HA.

          I also write the first draft slowly, and tweak as I go along; it goes against all that 'just write' advice, but for me it's like knitting (not that I knit): go slowly and have most of your stitches tight to begin with, or race along and end up with dropped stitches and have to do loads of unravelling to fix it.

          • Link

            Oh, sure. Actually, I've tried it both ways by now (rushing out a rough draft and fixing it later, vs. very carefully writing the first draft and correcting as you go along), and I agree the latter way is better for me, too. Also heavy outlining beforehand, if only to set out some guideposts.

            You know the surest way I've seen to extend the length of a piece of work is to split up the characters and then tell each of their stories separately. This is the technique used for every epic fantasy series ever written. But you probably shouldn't do that, because it's more often than not incredibly obnoxious. The other technique is to pull a Victor Hugo or a Herman Melville and just interject dozens of long introductory paragraphs about some minor detail that has a passing relation to the plot, like mess halls on ships, or the history of the Paris sewers.

            If I had good ideas I'd also give them to you.

            • Link

              I appreciate that! The only solution I can think of currently is MOAR SUBPLOTS and the idea fills me with despair...

  • Link

    I'm glad to see someone bring that up and I think you put it very well. I've lost my trust in a writer's work many times, and for me, it's really hard to keep going. It seems like for some, they can just overlook it and keep going. And some writers some to get upset if you lose trust and abandon a story, like there is an expectation to continue and finish. I wish more writers would look at things this way.

    • Link

      I sense a little bitterness in your reply, here. Running into some stinkers lately by people you know?

      • Link

        I admittedly have become a little bitter with the writing scene over the years. The things people let slide while I feel it's as you mentioned, a lose of trust. And I have been sort of shunned for thinking such ways. Might be why I find myself reading less and less.

        • Link

          Well, not to insinuate too much, but you might notice I've been pretty scarce around the usual furry writing haunts lately myself. So I may get you.