Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Inside Heather's Brain - Is it a Giraffe or An Elephant? My Thoughts on Editing Before Finishing #ASMSG #Amwriting

Today I would like to share something of a discussion I had with a young writer earlier in the week. Her plight is not unusual - she's an awesome writer (I've read a few snippets,) but she has yet to bring any of her stories to their final conclusion.

The problem, we think, is that she wants every word to be perfect from the get-go. She will write a single chapter, then will edit and polish that single chapter to death. But somewhere along the way she loses the plot (excuse the pun,) and what began as the best idea since Harry Potter, fizzles and dies until she views it as little more than a festering pile of dung. So what should she do?

Before I share what we discussed, let me just say this - there are as many ways to write a novel as there are books on Amazon. If some other method works for you - great! That's fabulous! Keep up the good work! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

I never edit until I've finished the first draft. Not really. I might tweak something that's staring me in my face, shouting "fix me you fool!"  - like correcting the sentence I'm working on - but that's about it. I never look back. Why? Here's what we discussed.
  1. Are you perfecting a giraffe or an elephant? Until you pen, "The End," do you even know what a perfect paragraph looks like? Novels are organic things, they evolve as you go. Your perfectly-penned passage might very well become redundant and end up on the cutting room floor.  (Remember to save deleted passages in a file - they might inspire other works.)
  2. There is a magical sense of accomplishment when you finally finish a book. By dithering over the details you're potentially denying yourself that rush you get when you pen those final words. From what I've seen, writer's that finally cross the finish line are far more likely to repeat the experience and finish more books.
  3. By getting to the end quickly, the journey seems less arduous. If you commit to, say two to three thousand words a day without loitering at the start line, it's amazing how quickly you can churn out a novel. Premature editing will just slow you down.
  4. When you do get to the end, like puffs of smoke from a moving train your novel will suggest new ideas that weren't on the ticket at the beginning. You will never experience this sitting in the station on platform one.
So, in a gist this was pretty much what she and I discussed. I felt her pain. I was there with her doing the same thing for the longest time. But if I can testify to anything, old habits can change. If we want them to. Those are the real magic words.

Writing is a journey with infinite roads and as many destinations. Thank you for sharing this piece of the path with me.


Heather Hart is a British author who lives with her family in Maryland. She’s a writer of hot erotic and romantic fiction – an eclectic mix of innocence and dirt in a hyperactive imagination.

When she’s not frantically scribbling away she’s a cat worshipper and curry fanatic. If you like what she writes, please feel free to drop her a line at authorheatherhart@gmail[dot]com.


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