Friday, March 9, 2012

The Art of Editing

Normally, I'm the kind of writer that moves fairly slowly through a story. I don't tend to write scenes out of order and I don't move on from a scene until I'm happy with it. This fits with my general philosophy of "Get it right the first time!"

As I try out self-publishing and start thinking about what life would be like as a professional author, though, I've been giving thought to different strategies. Namely, the 'get the draft done quickly and revise the hell out of it' method.

Changing habits has never been easy, and this is no exception. I keep trying to revise every scene to death while I'm writing it the first time, which - as my theory goes - might be wasting time in the long run because not every scene makes it into the final version, or needs to be heavily revamped due to choices later in the story.

Thus, I'm giving the rough cut a try lately. It is very hard to move on from writing I know is bad, but I'm doing it anyway - and it is oddly liberating. Empty as it may be, it feels good to add ~1000 words to a story most times I sit down to write. It also lets me write the fun stuff more quickly (I'm not sure when I'll try writing books 'out of order.' Not sure I'll ever be that kind of writer), or at least the parts of the story I see most clearly and have better figured out.

The biggest danger I see is that it might make revisions more complicated when I rewrite scenes and change details which have an effect upstream in the story. As the chaos theory and every good movie dealing with time travel tells us, "everything depends on everything else."

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