Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Re-write, anybody?

I hate writing second drafts.

No doubt there are people out there who can look at a piece they have written and with no more than a flick of a computer key delete, add or amend their near perfect prose.  These people are, no doubt, called Professional Writers.

The likes of us mere mortals, aka me, need a bit more notice.  We can't just sit there with a pen and calmly cross through and add willy nilly.  Oh no, that would be far too easy.

For whatever reason my brain needs time to warm up, to get into the story so to speak.  This inevitably means printing out my first draft and starting from scratch, typing up what is showing on the paper until such time as Mr Brain kicks in and starts telling me what needs expanding or re-wording.

I think this may be linked to my approach to writing.  One of the things you constantly hear from writers and writer groups is that it's all about using the strongest word at the appropriate time.  Weak words must be illiminated at all costs as this shows weak writing.

And to be fair, to an extent i agree - using the right word or an interesting phrase can raise writing above the crowd and make it come alive, but it can also scream to the reader "look at me, i'm being clever at you"

For me personally writing is more about the rhythmn and flow.  Really good writing should be like a background piece of set - you know it is there, it helps to set the scene and makes you feel that the place you are at is real - but if its a really good set then you probably shouldn't notice it in the first place because it's done its job of getting you there.

And in order to achieve that flow - well, you can't just jump in can you?  You have to be there, in the scenery and feeling what the characters are saying to you.

I guess life is the same in many ways: you don't have much right to comment until you've been there yourself I guess...


The Bug said...

Oh I don't know - I can find things to say about a wide variety of things of which I have no experience whatsoever. :)

I always think what I wrote is PERFECT & HOW DARE anyone suggest that I change it. As such, I'm not much of a professional writer.

Anonymous said...

I like your analogy, how the writing is like a set and should not detract from the story being told. Awesome.

As for my writing, I like to take it scene by scene. Sure, there are threads converging and criss-crossing, but each scene is a little island of its own, and should paint a small but beautiful portion of the bigger picture . . .

If that makes sense . . .

Friko said...

But you are in charge all the time. The characters do what you tell them to do and you know whether the setting gives them the right background. A poor or weak setting kills the characters off.

Sure, the story has to be believable but feeble writing won't tell it as it should be told.

I get terribly bored when the writing is poor, I get irritable and soon chuck the book.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Which is why I still write in a composition bok. lol

Michael said...

my problem is I edit too much. but i dont mind it. it's quite satisfying to see something that is cool in itself and then cut it anyway because it just isnt needed in the piece. empowering. reading on the screen vs. paper makes me see it differently too. courses and feedback from those with more experience helps me know what I don't know, if you know what I mean.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - oh yes, it can be fun to do that too!

Brian - yes I agree that each bit adds to the bigger picture and that things should only really be there if they are adding to the story

Friko - ah no, you've reached the other end of the spectrum there. Bad writing will, indeed, stand out and make you put the book down. But I would say that writing that is busy being pleased with how clever it is is equally as bad as the worst script from a 1950s B Movie

Oh and if you can tell me of one writer who wont, at some point, tell you that the characters aren't doing what they want them to, then i'll admit that yes, i am in charge :)

Mimi - well why not? :)

Michael - yes i think you do need to be able to be critical and cut what needs to be cut. If everyone could do this then we wouldn't need Editors. Going on courses and seeking advice can help - but its tricky because so much of what is said is opinion rather than fact

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Ahoy Miss Pixie!

Thanks for the visit!
The French book sounds exciting!
It's great to make a lovely find.

I purchases...again for $1 (I'm big on the $1 buy, eh? This was a Bag for a Buck thing at my old college library) a set of 14 slim, perfectly preserved books from the 1800's written in German. (they are posted in my Pirate Girl blog)
I was adopted in Heidelberg, Germany and they needed to live with me. ;)

In the interest of: How DARE they suggest I change my work! I offer this: I was once rejected by a publisher who had sent out a request for 'short stories about strong women pirates'......mine was deemed: "too piratey" lol
My favorite insult to my writing to date. And, quite frankly, will be hard to top! ;)

Keep writing.....always........

Have a creative and magical day!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Mimi - i'm intrigued - how can a pirate story be to piraty?

Is there only so many splicings of the mainsails per page?

Argent said...

It is difficult, having slogged your way right to the end that first time, to go back over it all. It's not going to seem quite. As fresh that second time, but some bits will hold up better than you thought they would. I guess the trick is to keep the strongest bits and chop out or strengthen the weak bits. Having written the whole thing, at least you have an idea how it all hangs together, which should help in the re-write. One good tip I found: no adverbs. If a verb is so weak it needs an adverb, try another verb. Example: the man ran quickly up the stairs. This can become the man sprinted up the stairs.