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maestrowork
10-03-2005, 08:39 PM
What are the writer's traps you can think of?

- being perfectionist... trying to write a perfect first draft
- "golden word" syndrome
- "perfect beginning" syndrome... trying to perfect the beginning... rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, sometimes for months or years just the first few chapters
- procrastination... "I'm not writing today because I don't feel inspired... or I have better things to do"
- too many ideas... and can't see each idea to completion
- making things too complicated... outrageous plot twists; overly-complex characters, etc.

Anything else?

Aconite
10-03-2005, 08:49 PM
"I have to know all the details before I can start writing."

Cathy C
10-03-2005, 09:01 PM
Edits will ruin my "vision."
A good plot will take the place of good characters (or vice-versa.)
The reader will forgive me for this "one little thing."

victoriastrauss
10-03-2005, 09:23 PM
- being perfectionist... trying to write a perfect first draftThat can be a trap. It can also be a technique. At any rate, it works for some people (unlike procrastination...)

- Victoria

loquax
10-03-2005, 09:34 PM
Comparing your first draft to your favourite book.

pandora9
10-03-2005, 10:43 PM
Falling in and out of love (and back again) with my characters, and plots ... Very exhausting.
I've broken the back of my perfectionism by lowering my standards - works a treat at draft stage.
I have so many ideas and characters floating around in deep space, but the bringing forward of them confuses me - the linearity of words on a page and all that.
For all the difficulties, what a joy this writing mystery is!

Mike Martyn
10-03-2005, 11:46 PM
Coincidence, what's wrong with coincidence.? It worked for Shakespeare didn't it?(Buddy, you ain't him!)

Aconite
10-03-2005, 11:51 PM
Related to Mike's offering:
"Well, [respected author long dead] wrote in that style/using those conventions, so it's okay."

maestrowork
10-03-2005, 11:56 PM
Coincidence, what's wrong with coincidence.? It worked for Shakespeare didn't it?(Buddy, you ain't him!)

It also worked for Dickens (Buddy, you ain't him either).

JackieG
10-04-2005, 12:07 AM
My worst, absolute WORST thing I trap myself with is the feeling that first all my dishes must be done, and the kids' rooms picked up and the laundry put away, and the vaccum cleaner run, and THEN I can sit down and write. I just hate that!

Tiaga
10-04-2005, 12:47 AM
What are the writer's traps you can think of?

- being perfectionist... trying to write a perfect first draft
- "golden word" syndrome
- "perfect beginning" syndrome... trying to perfect the beginning... rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, sometimes for months or years just the first few chapters
- procrastination... "I'm not writing today because I don't feel inspired... or I have better things to do"
- too many ideas... and can't see each idea to completion
- making things too complicated... outrageous plot twists; overly-complex characters, etc.

Anything else?

8,253 posts?

maestrowork
10-04-2005, 01:06 AM
touche.

Jamesaritchie
10-04-2005, 03:31 AM
[QUOTE=maestrowork]What are the writer's traps you can think of?

- being perfectionist... trying to write a perfect first draft
- "golden word" syndrome
- "perfect beginning" syndrome... trying to perfect the beginning... rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, sometimes for months or years just the first few chapters
QUOTE]

These are traps only if you don't know when to move on. I've always tired to write a perfect first draft. I don't succeed, of course, but I try. Hard. And I often spend as much time on the beginning as on the entire rest of the novel. For me, both are better than the trap of "Write crap, make it smell good later."

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that many of the traps writers fall into, be it perfectionism, waiting for inspiration, finding other things to do, whether it's research, housework, watching the latest episode of Lost, visiting friends you haven't seen, needing to read that new how-to book because you may learn something useful, finding a better idea just when the first one is starting to move, etc., are all just manifestations of procrastination. If you aren't making progress, if you aren't finishing what you start within a reasonable timeline, it's procrastination, whatever mask it's wearing.

I think two of the biggest traps writers fall into, ones that can kill, are "The editor will fix it," and "I can hire someone to fix it." In other words, the exact opposite of perfectionism.

emeraldcite
10-04-2005, 04:27 AM
8,253 posts?

lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Of course, one writer's trap may be another writer's method...

paprikapink
10-04-2005, 04:54 AM
lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Of course, one writer's trap may be another writer's method...

That is *just* what I was going to say!

Which segues neatly into another good trap: it's all been said before.

emeraldcite
10-04-2005, 05:05 AM
it's all been said before.

which also leads to: don't get discouraged if someone's said it before, you can always try to say it better or say it different.

blacbird
10-04-2005, 06:25 AM
"No publisher in the history of the galaxy is ever going to accept this."

That's my big trap. Problem is, it has a long and honored history of factual correctness.

bird

maestrowork
10-04-2005, 06:40 AM
"No publisher in the history of the galaxy is ever going to accept this."

That's my big trap. Problem is, it has a long and honored history of factual correctness.

bird

Related to that: "Who am I kidding? I'm just not very good."

rhymegirl
10-04-2005, 07:02 AM
Is that anything like a mouse trap????

ted_curtis
10-04-2005, 07:29 AM
Thinking everything your betas tell you is right.

Thinking everything your betas tell you is wrong.

JackieG
10-04-2005, 07:36 AM
Thinking everything your betas tell you is right.

Thinking everything your betas tell you is wrong.


Using betas to tell you what's right or wrong? :)

blacbird
10-04-2005, 07:52 AM
Aren't betas these little tiny aquarium fish? You listening to them? What do they know?

bird

aruna
10-04-2005, 11:02 AM
It also worked for Dickens (Buddy, you ain't him either).

And for Charlotte Bronte. ANd I'm definitely not HER!

Back to your question, writer's traps: Don't change a comma of mine!

Jamesaritchie
10-04-2005, 11:23 AM
What is it they say, "Coincidence is a great way to begin a story, and a lousy way to end one."

aruna
10-04-2005, 11:33 AM
What is it they say, "Coincidence is a great way to begin a story, and a lousy way to end one."

One of my amazon reviewers complained that my book was too full of coincidences. As a matter of fact, it's not; if she had read carefully, she would have seen that almost every single "coincidence" was actually inevitable; and those that weren't, were meaningless in that the plot did not swing on them.

I love coincidences. My life is full of them; it's because of coincidences that I began to believe in God, in some kind of masterplan for my life. In novels they have to handled carefully; but I love them nevertheless.

BlueTexas
10-04-2005, 02:11 PM
My worst, absolute WORST thing I trap myself with is the feeling that first all my dishes must be done, and the kids' rooms picked up and the laundry put away, and the vaccum cleaner run, and THEN I can sit down and write. I just hate that!

You're not alone. If I have chores waiting, they sit in the back of my mind and nag. I've learned to either write first thing in the morning, before the mundane crap begins, or get everything done as soon as I get home from work, so I can concentrate fully.

Jamesaritchie
10-04-2005, 06:37 PM
You're not alone. If I have chores waiting, they sit in the back of my mind and nag. I've learned to either write first thing in the morning, before the mundane crap begins, or get everything done as soon as I get home from work, so I can concentrate fully.

This reminds me of someting I read once. Can't remember who said it, but it was "Dust is a protective covering for fine furniture."

I've seen others, such as, "A sink full of dishes is merely evidence that you're a good cook." And, "Piles of dirty laundry just mean someone in the family is too cheap to hire a maid. Tell HIM to get a better job, because you're interviewing maids tomorrow."

JackieG
10-04-2005, 06:55 PM
This reminds me of someting I read once. Can't remember who said it, but it was "Dust is a protective covering for fine furniture."

I'm very fond of calling dust "character". My house isn't dusty, it's full of character. :)

But now I'm here posting when I should be writing, so I've double-trapped myself. ::hurries off to accomplish something::

paprikapink
10-04-2005, 07:43 PM
My mother -- a big reader, I mean it's crazy how much that woman reads -- once asserted that if you put as much coincidence in fiction as occurs in real life your story would seem absurdly contrived.

arrowqueen
10-05-2005, 12:28 AM
I've had a couple of true stories rejected for exactly that reason.

(And in my house the word 'dust' is a noun, not a verb!)

Ivonia
10-05-2005, 08:17 AM
Nateskate, I know exactly what you mean! All this "world building" is really turning me off at times from working on my story, because I have to describe so many different things, but at the same time I can't be too boring or go into "info dump" mode (luckily I"m more or less using a lot of terms that are familiar to most people, as I'm too lazy to want to come up with new stuff than I already have hehe. I already have too much to explain as it is).

It's a fine line for me to walk. I suppose I could just write about angsty teenagers in a small town setting, which seems to be all the rage with college students lol (at least from the stuff I've been reading written by them).

Then again, I like to think big, and I want to write something on a scope that could rival Lord of the Rings (yeah, I know, "good luck there" lol). I guess we'll see what happens a few years from now, if I can ever get the "Procrastinator" to stop stalking me.

blacbird
10-05-2005, 10:37 AM
To me, perhaps the best means of "world building" for a fantasy writer is an exercise in POV. Have your protagonist experience and figure out your fantasy world as he or she goes along. Be strict about your POV as you do this. Ursula Leguin did a masterful job of it in her Earthsea "trilogy" (now four or five volumes plus some shorter works). Also the much-neglected Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, my nominee for the next big literary fantasy work to be translated into a blockbuster movie.

I'm fussing around with something of this sort, among other useless literary endeavors never to be seen by the eye of mortal humans.

bird

aruna
10-05-2005, 11:00 AM
The problem of "info-dumping" is not only endemic to fantasy. I have the same problem with my quasi-historical WIP. The country's history will be unknown to most of my readers and is necessary for the book's story, so it has to come in somewhere.
I've been worling on one chapter in particular this morning, and I think i'm going to post it in Share Your Work; perhaps you can help me out of this info-dump situation!
Your views would be welcome: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=348032#post348032

zornhau
10-05-2005, 03:05 PM
One of my amazon reviewers complained that my book was too full of coincidences. As a matter of fact, it's not; if she had read carefully, she would have seen that almost every single "coincidence" was actually inevitable; and those that weren't, were meaningless in that the plot did not swing on them.

That's another trap:
"If only readers would take the time to read my work properly, they'd understand its brilliance"

aruna
10-05-2005, 03:12 PM
That's another trap:
"If only readers would take the time to read my work properly, they'd understand its brilliance"

True enough; though that wasn't what I was trying to say! (I was saying that what she called coincidences, in fact weren't)

zornhau
10-05-2005, 03:30 PM
True enough; though that wasn't what I was trying to say! (I was saying that what she called coincidences, in fact weren't)

Yes, but your response to her feedback seemed to illustrate the trap in question.

Of course she could be stupid, spiteful, or reading outside her genre...

aruna
10-05-2005, 03:49 PM
Yes, but your response to her feedback seemed to illustrate the trap in question.

Of course she could be stupid, spiteful, or reading outside her genre...

Probably, neither of the three; just unobservant. The story centred on two separate families living on two sides of the globe. At some point they had to meet in order to find out the relationship between them; the meeting had to take place in London.
In the first draft, the two family members who had to meet just happened to run into each other in London. That would have been too great a coincidence. Instead, a character was introduced who for good reason knew both families, and brought them together, but in a roundabout way..
The coincidence no longer existed, yet, on the surface, still appeared to be one. Nothing particularly brilliant about that; my objection to her feedback was that she was wrong. What appeared to be coincidental, wasn't.

zornhau
10-05-2005, 04:06 PM
Probably, neither of the three; just unobservant. The story centred on two separate families living on two sides of the globe. At some point they had to meet in order to find out the relationship between them; the meeting had to take place in London.
In the first draft, the two family members who had to meet just happened to run into each other in London. That would have been too great a coincidence. Instead, a character was introduced who for good reason knew both families, and brought them together, but in a roundabout way..
The coincidence no longer existed, yet, on the surface, still appeared to be one. Nothing particularly brilliant about that; my objection to her feedback was that she was wrong. What appeared to be coincidental, wasn't.

Ah, that probably makes her fall into the stupid category. However, stupid people buy books too. So, is there anything - in hindsight - you could have done to keep her onboard?

aruna
10-05-2005, 04:33 PM
Ah, that probably makes her fall into the stupid category. However, stupid people buy books too. So, is there anything - in hindsight - you could have done to keep her onboard?

Yes: I could have made it absolutely obvious!:) But - no big deal.

StoryG27
10-05-2005, 05:12 PM
Housework? Hmm, my mom always said: A messy house is a sign of a creative mind.

Now, if only I could see it that way. I hate working in a cluttered enviornment. Of course, once I'm really into my writing, I swear bombs could detonate and not gain my attention, but if my focus is drifting, I usually do busy work, like housework, because then I can mull ideas over in my mind while working, expend some energy, and when I sit back down to write, I've got focused ideas and I'm ready to write and write.

I don't know if this counts, but my biggest personal writing trap isn't in the actual writing itself, it's the rewriting. I'M NEVER SATISFIED. I can rewrite my manuscript to death. Going overboard on revisions and editing...over and over because it's never perfect, or even close (IMO). I can forgive a great story I read of any number of small mistakes but my own writing...nope, and the problem is, sometimes I'll get so focused on fix, fix, fix, that I can actually make it worse.

Nateskate
10-05-2005, 05:41 PM
Nateskate, I know exactly what you mean! All this "world building" is really turning me off at times from working on my story, because I have to describe so many different things, but at the same time I can't be too boring or go into "info dump" mode (luckily I"m more or less using a lot of terms that are familiar to most people, as I'm too lazy to want to come up with new stuff than I already have hehe. I already have too much to explain as it is).

It's a fine line for me to walk. I suppose I could just write about angsty teenagers in a small town setting, which seems to be all the rage with college students lol (at least from the stuff I've been reading written by them).

Then again, I like to think big, and I want to write something on a scope that could rival Lord of the Rings (yeah, I know, "good luck there" lol). I guess we'll see what happens a few years from now, if I can ever get the "Procrastinator" to stop stalking me.

Yes, if you try a LOTR type scale, it is a wearisome burden. There are varying degrees of difficulty. If you are familiar with Tolkien, he has three books of varying degree of difficulty, and a few smaller stories. The Hobbit would be the easiest to write. Lord of the Rings second, and the Silmarillion would be the hardest to write.

Relatively few people finish the Silmarillion. It is a "hard read" in parts. Some get gummed up in his creation account, and others following all of the names that begin with an F- Finwe, Fingolfin, Finarfin, Finrod...etc. Of, and who can forget Feanor? Others get hung up and the extensive narrative.

The problem with a complex story of great scale is that some things won't work. You can map out the story from Billie Bobs Home to Mount Despair, but you may not realize that something isn't working until you are into book three.

That unfortunately happened to me. I had written out and did a rough edit of the story, and certain parts were great, others were not working. I wound up writing a whole new book one, which acts as the historical backdrop of the rest of the series. Did that slow down progress!

But now I had new things to reconcile throughout the rest of the story. Although the characters and general plot is the same, I was forced to rewrite each subsequent book. Some characters were added, some eliminated.

It's daunting, but book one is done, book two is undergoing minor revisions, and book three is about a third way revised. And it is still a great risk. Book one begins with light-heartedness of the Hobbit, and ends much darker and graver, but an easier read than the Silmarillion. And Book Two is sort of a cross between Arthurian Legend and LOTR. There are no elves, dwarves or characters from Tolkien's tales.

Nateskate
10-05-2005, 06:05 PM
To me, perhaps the best means of "world building" for a fantasy writer is an exercise in POV. Have your protagonist experience and figure out your fantasy world as he or she goes along. Be strict about your POV as you do this. Ursula Leguin did a masterful job of it in her Earthsea "trilogy" (now four or five volumes plus some shorter works). Also the much-neglected Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, my nominee for the next big literary fantasy work to be translated into a blockbuster movie.

I'm fussing around with something of this sort, among other useless literary endeavors never to be seen by the eye of mortal humans.

bird

Be more positive! If it is worth fussing with, it should be seen by mortal eyes.

There are varying ways to give background. But it depends on what you want to accomplish. My approach to book one is much different than it was to the other stories. I wanted it to feel much like ancient mythology, but with fairy tale characters, and a structured direction as oppossed to disconnected stories.

I'll preface this by saying- The Silmarillion is brilliant. However, from a reader's standpoint it is flawed, especially if you want to draw a wide audience. Many LOTR fans never read the Silmarillion all the way through. To them it is like reading second chronicles, "So and so begat so and so; and they begat so and so..."

But Tolkien wrote it with something other than a wide-audience in mind. It was a scholarly project and hobby that he never expected to get published.

My story is as complex (in my mind) but I wanted it to be reader friendly. So, I added loveable characters. I give more history through conversations than Tolkien did. And every once in awhile I throw in a tale that is not part of the story, but a story within the story as you would have in a history- an interesting blurb how a mountain came to be, or how it got its name.

To reach the most, you have to bridge ancient ways of saying things with modern. The prose has to be poetic at times. You have to avoid all modern slang or "it's, they're, we'll".

I wanted the reader to believe this was a translation of ancient text, a real account of history, but without gumming it up with "thee, thou, thine..."

blacbird
10-05-2005, 08:49 PM
If it is worth fussing with, it should be seen by mortal eyes.

Maybe. But first you have to get it through the publication gate, and my experience pretty much uniformly is that the gatekeepers don't want to see it.

bird

Jamesaritchie
10-05-2005, 08:53 PM
I don't know if this counts, but my biggest personal writing trap isn't in the actual writing itself, it's the rewriting. I'M NEVER SATISFIED. I can rewrite my manuscript to death. Going overboard on revisions and editing...over and over because it's never perfect, or even close (IMO). I can forgive a great story I read of any number of small mistakes but my own writing...nope, and the problem is, sometimes I'll get so focused on fix, fix, fix, that I can actually make it worse.

I think this is one of the more common traps. I'm not sure what the best remedy is, but there a saying that "Stories are never finished, they're only abandoned. Learn to abandon yours."

Following this is great. . .if you can.

maestrowork
10-05-2005, 09:16 PM
This is a trap for many literary/mainstream writers, but it could happen to other genre writers as well:

Obsessed with coming up with the most elegant, literary brilliant prose and ornate descriptions... sacrificing the story movement and character developments. In turn, boring the readers stiff...

Not quite purple prose, but close.

Jaycinth
10-06-2005, 01:48 AM
Friends. ( not the TV show, I mean those people who chose to like us.)

naimas
10-06-2005, 07:49 PM
Telling people I love the whole plot of the story before I write it. Then I feel like I lost my wind and never get around to writing it. I make sure I don't tell anyone about what I am working on now. I sabotaged a half dozen stories by giving away the ghost before it hit paper.

Euan H.
10-07-2005, 06:06 AM
there a saying that "Stories are never finished, they're only abandoned. Learn to abandon yours."
This is true for all writing. When I was writing my MA thesis, my advisor told me that it would never be 'finished' as such. I'd reach a point of diminishing returns, and when the effort you're putting into rewriting it makes no appreciable difference to whether it'll be accepted or not, then it's time to stop.

Trick is, knowing when you've reached that point.

maestrowork
10-07-2005, 08:19 AM
my advisor told me that it would never be 'finished' as such. I'd reach a point of diminishing returns....

Trick is, knowing when you've reached that point.

When all you do is tinkering with different sentence arrangements, using a different word here and there, fixing punctuations, or changing dialogue tags, then you know you've reached that point.

Nateskate
10-09-2005, 02:04 AM
Maybe. But first you have to get it through the publication gate, and my experience pretty much uniformly is that the gatekeepers don't want to see it.

bird

It's hard to judge by that. There are more than one sides to a story. There are variations in the story itself and the telling. Some people get by on a great telling and a mediocre story. In fact, I'd say most books fall into this category. Then there are great stories with a mediocre telling. Then you have the people who have decent stories and decent story-telling ability, but nothing exceptional.

If you pass the first test, and believe you have a great story to tell, then keep crafting it because in doing so you will become crafty, meaning you will force yourself to tell it better.

I had a story to tell, and it was a good story, but my craftiness lacked a bit. It forced me to break down what I was doing wrong and right. Then there was the pitch. And here's a pitch. The more times you explain your story to people, the better you get at identifying how to pitch your story. I had the chance to meet a few agents and editors a few years ago. They asked, "What is the story about?" I couldn't put it into words.

If you don't have a good pitch, then don't quit, get a good pitch. I'll bet Tolkien couldn't pitch LOTR in today's market. It was just to big to get your arms around it. And it wasn't in his nature to be succinct about anything.

Here's a fun tip. Forget your own story. Think of how you would pitch famous stories. How would you describe Lord of the Rings in one page? The Lion Witch and Wardrobe in a paragraph? What I found out was that I just wasn't good at pitching at all (at first). The next chance I got to pitch the story I didn't blow it. Well, at least I had people saying they wanted to hear more. Now the story has to sell itself.

Danger Jane
10-09-2005, 03:10 AM
A good plot will take the place of good characters (or vice-versa.)


Totally worked for Dickens. But then, that was Dickens. I don't know of anyone else who can write such complex sentences--THAT was why people couldn't stop reading. Try and skim over a single sentence and there goes half the chapter.

inanna
10-09-2005, 03:54 AM
but I've got a trap that falls under the "perfect first draft" heading. I cannot stop myself from bringing everything to a grinding halt mid-sentence to go and Google some obscure bit of research to flesh out what I'm describing.

Sometimes it's 16th century Jesuit undergarments (don't ask) or just a "what is that cocktail table they have in nightclubs that's lit from beneath called?" kind of problem. And instead of inserting [cocktail table lit from below] in the sentence, I spend thirty minutes or longer hunting for the perfect way to describe it.

Grrrr...It's like I'm suddenly possessed by the perfectionist demon and I can't let it go, leave loose ends. As if I'm not going to have to go back and rewrite anyway. I'm getting a little better at resisting, but it's still my worst habit by far.

Rhade
10-09-2005, 07:38 AM
Thats a good one Inanna, I do that too :)

Jamesaritchie
10-09-2005, 03:27 PM
but I've got a trap that falls under the "perfect first draft" heading. I cannot stop myself from bringing everything to a grinding halt mid-sentence to go and Google some obscure bit of research to flesh out what I'm describing.

Sometimes it's 16th century Jesuit undergarments (don't ask) or just a "what is that cocktail table they have in nightclubs that's lit from beneath called?" kind of problem. And instead of inserting [cocktail table lit from below] in the sentence, I spend thirty minutes or longer hunting for the perfect way to describe it.

.

Disconnect from the internet. Get two computers, if you have to, and put the writing computer somewhere in the house as far from the internet computer as possible.

Or, when you come to a sentence where some bit of deep research is required, type in "Check Jesuit Undergarments in 16th century." Type Note1 right beside this and keep writing.

You can then do seach and find for Note1, Note2, etc., in the next draft and fill in the research.

Nateskate
10-09-2005, 10:26 PM
Perfectionism is bad when it stumbles you, and good when it drives you to make something much better. So the tendency itself is not the problem, its the application of the tendency.

Different things work for different people. Being a perfectionist in the drafting of a story is a negative for most, because it is human nature to feed off of the initial enthusiasm, and this provides momentum to finish. You don't want to think long and hard at the front end. You want to get your best ideas down while they are fresh.

Initial thought:

"Larry looked at Laura's face, and saw something that made him want to talk to her."

Revised:

"Larry looked into Laura's green eyes, ablaze with fire and life. Yes, they were large and pretty, but that wasn't what lured him to look deeper. It was seven years to the day that he lost his wife Jill to cancer, and something in Laura's face said, "I know your sadness...it is time to live again, and I can help you heal." Larry was hooked, and although he tried to catch his tongue before it spoke, he heard himself saying, "Would you like to get together for coffee?"

This second sentence says so much more than the first. And it could be reworked further. However, if you try to say everything perfectly from the get-go, instead of being at page 150 and sailing, you'll be at page nineteen wondering why you ever wanted to be a writer in the first place, because every paragraph seems daunting.

Well, some of my re-writes seem daunting, so there is a payback. But it's different to know you have a book that needs to be perfected than to know you haven't got a book and it is taking forever to write one chapter. You lose steam and then you are tempted to take up throwing manuscripts in the fireplace.

Perfectionism in the re-writes is good until you get to the point of revising what you've just revised back to its origional form. Then you've got to back away and leave it to an editor. That happened in one of the books. I revised it, went back to proof, and then revised the entire page back to the way it was and figured I was overdoing it, "If the editors don't like it, they can fix it..." *

*- But you can only say that when you know you've got a great story except for some parts you are struggling with. Otherwise you won't get to the place where an editor will see it unless you pay them.

inanna
10-10-2005, 01:27 AM
when you come to a sentence where some bit of deep research is required, type in "Check Jesuit Undergarments in 16th century." Type Note1 right beside this and keep writing.

You can then do seach and find for Note1, Note2, etc., in the next draft and fill in the research.

This is a great idea--thank you. I'd forgotten that the search function is my friend.


Nateskate said...if you try to say everything perfectly from the get-go, instead of being at page 150 and sailing, you'll be at page nineteen wondering why you ever wanted to be a writer in the first place, because every paragraph seems daunting.



That is so true. And considering I'm nearing the end of this novel, more important than ever. I'm starting to feel burned-out (the book is loooong, and at some point will need to become a trilogy) so a lot of my prose is looking more and more like your first example--just the bones of the story. Thanks for the great advice. I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself that the finish line is what I'm shooting for now, and not perfection. Hopefully, I can settle for "doesn't suck" instead. :rolleyes:

Danger Jane
10-10-2005, 06:26 AM
Yeah. I'm an uber perfectionist.

My writing computer is a laptop that's not hooked up to the internet. When something bugs me, I remember it. And then I look it up the next day, or in an hour, or something.

jules
10-10-2005, 11:06 PM
If you don't have a good pitch, then don't quit, get a good pitch. I'll bet Tolkien couldn't pitch LOTR in today's market. It was just to big to get your arms around it. And it wasn't in his nature to be succinct about anything.

This idea gets repeated a lot, but seems to me to be completely wrong. Tolkien could've sold just about anything right then (except, perhaps, The Silmarillion) because The Hobbit was selling in crazy volumes, and everyone was desperate to find out more about Hobbits...

Danger Jane
10-10-2005, 11:15 PM
Perfectionism in the re-writes is good until you get to the point of revising what you've just revised back to its origional form. Then you've got to back away and leave it to an editor. That happened in one of the books. I revised it, went back to proof, and then revised the entire page back to the way it was and figured I was overdoing it, "If the editors don't like it, they can fix it..."

SUCH good advice. I'm ooberglad you said that.

Nateskate
10-11-2005, 04:43 AM
This is a great idea--thank you. I'd forgotten that the search function is my friend.



That is so true. And considering I'm nearing the end of this novel, more important than ever. I'm starting to feel burned-out (the book is loooong, and at some point will need to become a trilogy) so a lot of my prose is looking more and more like your first example--just the bones of the story. Thanks for the great advice. I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself that the finish line is what I'm shooting for now, and not perfection. Hopefully, I can settle for "doesn't suck" instead. :rolleyes:

I hope you do sail through, to the stars and back again.

As far as shooting for the moon, the idea is never to give in to less than your best. The idea is "How can I reach my best?", and going crazy with stress won't accomplish that.

Some might think, "Write every sentence like its the best sentence you'll ever write." That sounds good on paper-:) , but it's a trap. It's like the Chinese proverb, "A thousand mile journey starts with the first step"

No one can walk a thousand miles, but we can take one step at a time. And two steps, then three, and eventually they add up. You go farther in increments that seem possible.

So, from a mental standpoint, breaking anything down into doable parts is the easiest way to do something. And the reason why getting ideas down works is because you get the sense that something is done. Feeling like nothing is done makes everything ahead seem harder.

Now that my imperfect book is done, I can perfect page one. Then I can perfect page two. And instead of going back and forth, you get a sense of what was working and not working, so you can cut or add a character in the re-write.

inanna
10-11-2005, 06:22 AM
I hope you do sail through, to the stars and back again.


Thank you. :Sun:That's very sweet. And I appreciate your advice. One sentence at a time is exactly how I'm going to finish this thing. Then I'm stuffing it in my closet for a while. I'll need fresh eyes if I'm going to have any chance of fixing what's wrong with this novel.

mkcbunny
10-11-2005, 06:46 AM
Or, when you come to a sentence where some bit of deep research is required, type in "Check Jesuit Undergarments in 16th century." Type Note1 right beside this and keep writing.

I do this using the Comments function in Word, and it really helps to keep the flow going. Not only for research items but anything that might get in the way of my momentum. This happens quite frequently when I am just in "the zone" writing without certain details plotted out; I'll realize that what I've just written has ramifications elsewhere in the book that need to be addressed. Whenever I hit a reasearch item, timeline issue, or have a question, I put in a comment and move on.

My biggest procrastination technique is tidying the house. And message boards. That said, some days I do actually clean the house while I'm stewing thoughts and then sit down and write for several hours. My schedule is way too flexible for my own good.

William Haskins
10-11-2005, 06:58 AM
worrying about what the market wants or what is fashionable.

mkcbunny
10-11-2005, 07:09 AM
Fear of failure.
ETA: Fear of success, as well.

inanna
10-11-2005, 08:47 AM
worrying about what the market wants or what is fashionable.


Amen. I won't even get started on that one. Big trap. At least while one is still trying to finish one's manuscript.

maestrowork
10-11-2005, 08:48 AM
The flip side of that: writing something that no one is going to buy. No market potential at all.

William Haskins
10-11-2005, 09:14 AM
The flip side of that: writing something that no one is going to buy. No market potential at all.

you act as if such things could be predicted in advance, or even reasonably anticipated.

brokenfingers
10-11-2005, 10:35 AM
If you are writing for yourself, there's no need to worry about writing for anyone else or crafting your words to please others.

If however, you wish someone to dole out money for your words, the fact remains, as sad and unfortunate as it may seem, that you're going to have to convince them that they stand to profit from it - whether it's an agent, a publisher, or a reader.

Are you saying, Haskins, that you just write scripts with no bearing whatsover as to their marketability?

Beyondian
10-11-2005, 11:18 AM
Fear of failure.
ETA: Fear of success, as well.
Oh Yeah. And fear that you'll appear an amaturish wannabe to all those god-like professional editors and agents, and fear that they'll hate your handwriting, and fear that you didn't revise enough, or that you revised too much. Etc. etc.
Shall I just put that down as fear?

paprikapink
10-11-2005, 11:25 AM
Here's one that, ah, a friend of mine has in a big way...she thinks the idea she has now is the only idea she'll ever have. So she has to hit it just right. Cuz it's her only thing. She's got to express it so well that it could completely take the world by storm, like, um...Levi's jeans or something. It's hard to rough out a first draft of something that has to be better than anything ever written. That's what she tells me, anyway. And then plus, once she's done it, if she ever could do it, then what?

aruna
10-11-2005, 11:36 AM
Rewording sentences to make them sound clever, literary, instead of just saying what happened.

britwrit
10-11-2005, 07:22 PM
The "only idea she'll ever have." Wow - I sure know that trap. I've got several ideas that are really, really, really great but I'm just not that good enough a writer to handle them yet. So I stuck them back into my subconscious and let them simmer for a few more years. Maybe when I'm 80 (or 85... or 90...), I'll be able to do them justice.

maestrowork
10-11-2005, 09:22 PM
you act as if such things could be predicted in advance, or even reasonably anticipated.

Well... but there are certain guideposts. Reminds me of the Producers. They want to do a play so horrendous, outrageously bad that nobody would ever want to see it -- so they come up with Hitler in Springtime, the musical...targeting the Jewish audience! Surely that's death to the market, right? But yeah, sometimes you can't predict... but chances are, a musical glorifying Hitler and what a wonderful man he was (unless it was done as a satire...) might find a very narrow audience...

Jaycinth
10-11-2005, 09:31 PM
Sometimes I get hung up on my characters. Something bad needs to happen to one or more of them and I like them too much so I don't want to 'hurt' them. I've wound up wasting time inventing a character I CAN kill, then I have to re-work the tale, and by then I've taken a shining to the condemned.

William Haskins
10-11-2005, 10:09 PM
Well... but there are certain guideposts. Reminds me of the Producers. They want to do a play so horrendous, outrageously bad that nobody would ever want to see it -- so they come up with Hitler in Springtime, the musical...targeting the Jewish audience! Surely that's death to the market, right? But yeah, sometimes you can't predict... but chances are, a musical glorifying Hitler and what a wonderful man he was (unless it was done as a satire...) might find a very narrow audience...

agreed. and it's always a matter of degrees, i suppose. i would just venture to guess that for every outlandish, unmarketable idea that's rejected, there are 10 derivative, cheap knock-offs that seem like a sure thing from a marketing perspective. to go into a writing project saying this or that "is hot" may be a successful hedging of bets, but it seems like an empty way to go about creating one's body of work.

anyway, to each his or her own.

maestrowork
10-12-2005, 12:14 AM
agreed. and it's always a matter of degrees, i suppose. i would just venture to guess that for every outlandish, unmarketable idea that's rejected, there are 10 derivative, cheap knock-offs that seem like a sure thing from a marketing perspective. to go into a writing project saying this or that "is hot" may be a successful hedging of bets, but it seems like an empty way to go about creating one's body of work.

anyway, to each his or her own.

Agreed. But this is different than the other writer's trap: "try to predict what market is hot or not." I'm saying this is the "flipside" of that coin. Thinking that what you're writing has great market potential without doing some market research first... then you end up working for 2 years on Hitler in Springtime thinking everyone's gonna love it... You know what I'm getting at? I totally agree about "trying to predict the market and writing to it" can be an empty way... but being oblivious to the market is also a dangerous trap for writers.

William Haskins
10-12-2005, 12:18 AM
ah, yes. i see our disconnect now. my original comment was "worrying about what the market wants or what is fashionable".

i agree being oblivious is a trap in itself, however my comment doesn't advocate ignorance, but rather avoiding putting too much stake in market forces.

now give us a kiss...

maestrowork
10-12-2005, 12:52 AM
sara, where are you?

mkcbunny
10-12-2005, 04:18 AM
And it may be clear what's hot now, but knowing what's going to be hot by the time you get your opus finshed and printed is another thing. What's hot now may be "over" by then. Chase the market and you could wind up being consistently behind it; ignore it and you may be even further behind ... or possibly way ahead, if you're a genius. Give it too much thought, and you're energy is probably misplaced. At the very least, you'll screw up your head.

MarkButler
10-12-2005, 04:43 AM
What about: Growing bored with a story after a couple of rewrites and wandering off to tell another great story..thus never finishing/polishing.
Mark

scarletpeaches
10-12-2005, 05:01 AM
I plead guilty to that one, MarkButler. Plus, you have a great avatar. :D