Tag Archives: first draft

Don’t be a Bad Writer! Learn What Good Writers Know

14753911496_29be0d1081_mMany people talk about bad writing versus good writing. Often the label of “good” or “bad” extends past the writing to the writer. There are many possible reasons as to why one writer may be considered “bad,” while another is thought of as “good.” But what is the main difference between good and bad writers?

Resilience.

Good writers are persistent. They refuse to give up. Bad writers stop when they hit a roadblock.

Most often a writer’s first novel isn’t all that great. Writing takes work, and the more you write, and the more you learn to write, the better you become at it. Writing a novel, short story, etc. is a big feat. However, writing a piece of work is only the first part. Revising and editing a piece comes after. Many times revision takes longer than writing the piece.

A writer friend of mine can write a novel in one month. Her first draft is a hot mess (she’s a pantser), which is part of the reason why it takes her months to revise. Typically, she’ll revise her novel twice before she gives it out to two to three beta readers. Then, she waits for their feedback, and when she gets that feedback, she listens to it.

Another friend of mine recently admitted that for the vast majority of feedback he receives, he simply nods his head and smiles, and then ignores whatever was said, rejecting it without any consideration. It’s not all that surprising that he is nowhere near as successful in the writing world as my previously mentioned friend.

Criticism makes your writing better. Having people other than yourself look at your work, allows you to see past your blind spots. You don’t have to be a perfectionist to be a good writer, but you do have to persevere, rewrite, and write consistently.

Bad writers don’t realize this, or choose not to.

You may have come across writers who get defensive when they receive feedback on their work. Maybe you’re one of those writers. It doesn’t help to be closed off to criticism. Yes, it can be frightening to think that your work it brilliant and then receive feedback and realize that your writing needs a lot of work. But in the end, your work will be more realistic and believable. It will have better pacing and will suck readers in. Make your work the best it can be, so that readers will stay up all night just to finish your work.

Do all you can to improve your writing. Be open to feedback and changing your work, even if that means cutting out a few chapters, eliminating a beloved character, or starting over. The goal is to make your work shine. Do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

What do you think?

(Photo courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images)

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Getting Ready for a Showdown with Revision

When you ask writers what their least favorite part of writing is, many will tell you revision. Why? Revision is a necessary part of writing, however it’s something a lot of writers struggle with. It’s time consuming for one, and it can be difficult to spot the flaws within your own work. Not to mention mentally preparing yourself to tear apart everything you just wrote.western_showdown

A good old-fashioned showdown.

Revision can seem like a daunting process. So how do you prepare for it? 

  1. Remember that first drafts are for dumping all your ideas onto the page. First drafts aren’t perfect. Characters, setting, and plot can still evolve afterward. If you had an ending in mind when you began your novel, it might have changed halfway through. Now, you need to go back and foreshadow correctly for the new ending.
  2. Relish in dissecting your story. It’s natural to want to keep to keep your writing, but if the writing doesn’t fit the story, then it’s got to go. One of the great things about computers is that you can save all the different drafts of your story. Just because you make a change doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. But the goal is to improve your story, and if there’s a chapter that doesn’t advance the plot or reveal anything, then it doesn’t serve a purpose other than to add to the word count and so it needs to go.
  3. The story is key. The story is what matters. Story and plot are two separate entities. Plot can change, while the underlying story remains the same. The story is the core issue, while plot equals the events within a story. If your protagonist needs to come across the corpse in chapter two, then be caught by the murderers in chapter seven, then escape in chapter ten, etc. there are many different ways these events can occur. You can change up the entire plot and still have the same story!
  4. Break it down. Revision doesn’t occur all at once. You’ll revise your work multiple times. Decide what aspects of revision you’re going to focus on during each stage of revision. In revision one, you’re likely to focus on the big picture issues, such as plot holes, coherency, the stakes for the characters, etc. Without first looking at the big picture issues, you won’t know if your story will work. The next revision might take a look at each chapter, instead of the story as a whole. The third revision could focus on certain sections of chapters. Eventually, you’ll be looking at grammar and punctuation. By breaking down the revision process, it doesn’t seem like such a mountain.

In the end, the goal is to make the story better, and the only way to accomplish that is through revision.

How do you prepare for the revision process?

(Photo courtesy of CowboyLands.)

 

Watch Out! Slumps That Could Prevent You Finishing Your Novel

You’ve probably had a lot of ideas for novels. However, how many of them actually became a novel? My guess is not all of them. Most likely, most of them haven’t.

That’s not unusual, or a bad thing.

The problems begin when you find months have passed and you haven’t progressed, none of your ideas became novels, or you realize your novel is a hot mess and just stop.

Here are some things to watch for and how to fix them:

  1. The idea. You’ve got a great premise for a novel, but you don’t do any planning. The Fix: Move forward and set goals. You need to do some planning, even if it’s only a short synopsis (but it would be better to have more than that). Know your characters and the plot. You have to be familiar with what’s going to happen, so you can build up to it.
  2. The roadblock. You hit a wall and get stuck, and end up never getting back to your novel. The Fix: Don’t blindly plow through the problem. Stop writing and work on the problem itself. For example, if you’re unsure how your protagonist will react to a situation, don’t go ahead and jot down something that might be right. Take the time to figure out how your character would react. That way her reaction seems authentic.
  3. The First Draft. Great! You’ve finished your novel! You happily send it off to agents, just knowing the offers of representation are going to come pouring in. The Fix: First off, STOP. What you’ve got is a first draft. It’s not ready to be sent out. Reread, revise, give to beta readers, reread, revise, take a week or two away from it, reread, revise. It feels like a lot of work because it is. However, doing this will significantly up your chances of snagging an agent rather than if you simply sent out your first draft.

What writing slumps have you experienced? How’d you fix them?