Blog Entry 8 Jan – Editing

I’ve been struggling through this Work In Progress (WIP) – much more so than with the two previous books. This is despite the fact that the story line is much better developed than when I wrote the first two. I think part of that is my mood; a dark mood is not conducive to writing the type of story I’m working. But another part is awareness of what is good, and what is not.

Rather than being discouraged, I believe my struggling is a good sign. It should be fun to write. Once written, one should not be immediately satisfied, but it should be fun to read. It is fun. However, I think I am struggling this time because it is harder to write well than it is to write poorly.

Like all of my first drafts, this one is wordy. Unlike in the past, when I’ve crawled through three or four sequential edits, I’ve decided to do something weird. Weird, at least, for normal people. I am doing two simultaneous edits, while working the first draft. I know that sounds like a bad idea, and it may turn out to be. However, I have ADHD, am simultaneously Thinking and Feeling (think Myers-Briggs ENTJ/ENFJ) and am ambidextrous. As a result, handling multiple input streams at once is far more relaxing to me than trying to teach my unruly brain how to focus on just one task.

I remain hopeful that doing so will accomplish two goals: one, turn up the energy level and make writing this book easier, and two, make for a better book.

In my current WIP, I’m going through the 65,000 words written thus far and focusing on dialog. I need to ensure that each person has a unique, consistent way of speaking. That is how it works in real life too. I can’t allow everyone to sound like, well, me. So this means crawling through each chapter, and reading aloud. Where the characters sound like each other, I fix it, using my character profiles. (And yes, they are based on Myers-Briggs.)

Separately, I created a mirror of the WIP, and named it tight. There, following Stephen King’s advice, I am taking out every unnecessary word. How do I know which ones are unnecessary? If I take them out, and the sentence is no worse, they weren’t needed. This is what poets do as well.

I have a separate file for this, because, frankly, it is hard as hell to do. I’m wordy (on paper). I like my words. Tightening the WIP, though, is critical. So far, it’s taking me far longer to tighten than it did to write, but the work is improving. I think. Hopefully, doing this, while alternating with writing new chapters, will teach me to write tighter in the first place.

My second drafts on average were 10-20% longer than the first drafts. Which means I added missing pieces and critical dialog, but did nothing to make it more readable. My new goal is to make the 2nd draft 12% shorter than the first.

Better get to it. Thinking about it is already draining my resolve.

Fast-paced is Slow to Write

I’ve spent three days writing the first draft of one key action-filled chapter. Strangely, although dialog is fairly easy for me to write, naturally flowing from the characters, action sequences are not.

The writing always feels too slow. In a fast-past, fantasy action scene, my inner critic feels the words should jump from the keyboard, my fingers cramping to keep up with my mind’s frenetic pace. Unfortunately, no. In fact, ofttimes my hands are impatiently tapping on my desk, waiting for my sluggish imagination to catch up. Even when the sequence flows, it seems to languish on the keyboard. In effect, my mind sees a movie sequence, but it is typed out at a horrendously sluggish pace.

The trick, I’ve decided, is to ignore my inner critic, and just get it out there. Sometimes when I read it later, I am pleasantly surprised at the pace of the scene. And, if I am not, there is always time to edit. The difficult part is first transcribing it from vague thoughts within my brain to paper.

So, three days later, 4,600 words done. Now a day off, and I can resume the work. Hopefully I can squeeze the turds out of the writing, and find the good bits.

Things No One Should Ever Say

Below is my ongoing list of things I believe no right-minded person should ever say. Only a few are technically wrong, but they irritate me. Therefore, they are banned.

This list will be updated as things piss me off.

  1. Craft – If you call your work, no matter what it may be, a craft, you sound like a pretentious ass. I will go so far as to say even if your work is to build a craft (aircraft, boats etc.) you may still not use the word. Call it what it is. It is writing, or your poetry, or widget building. It is not a craft, unless you are currently smoking while using a cigarette holder, and your world is in black and white. The only exemption is if you teach art to school-age children. In that case, use of the word craft rocks.
  2. Utilize – This word should be revoked. It is redundant with a better word, “use.” If you mean use, say use. Do not utilize this word, please.
  3. Refudiate – It was only funny the first time. This will become an actual word, much like “normalcy” did when Warren G. Harding invented it through equal ignorance. One’s native tongue should grow through efficiency, not stupidity.
  4. Irregardless – Um, no. Irrespective did not marry Regardless and have a baby. Quit it.
  5. Any Quote by Anonymous – If the writer did not think enough of her/his words to claim them, why on earth are you repeating them?
  6. “It Is what it Is” – Really? We thought it is what it ain’t. Being obvious and hackneyed is not the same as being witty or ironic. Only use this as a passive-aggressive expression to let someone in power know you disagree with their dumb ass, but are powerless to do anything about it. “Hey Mr. Manley, the schedule is what it is. Sure, I’ll work on Christmas.”
  7. Reality TV – Oxymoron. Reality, almost by definition, does not happen on TV. Unscripted TV, though pretentious, is more accurate. I prefer the term Shit TV, but that’s me.
  8. Me, Personally – Really?
  9. Your Name, Followed by Author – Unless you are filling out a job application, we don’t care. Stop it.
  10. Sowwy – Yes, I’ve had grown women say this to me. I did not hit them, as I am a gentleman. It did, however, terminate the conversations we were having. It is never cute, unless you’re three, and cannot yet pronounce the letter “R.”

As a Bonus, my Favorite Redundant Expression.

  1. Big Huge – Cute women who use this expression inevitably cause me to fall for them. Can’t help it, one must always have a guilty pleasure.