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mrsmig
03-04-2017, 09:51 PM
This article by George Saunders was posted today in The Guardian: What Writers Really Do When They Write (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/what-writers-really-do-when-they-write)

It's long, but also thoughtful and funny, and worth the time.

Mary Love
03-04-2017, 10:41 PM
I enjoyed that a lot, thank you for sharing.

Ari Meermans
03-04-2017, 11:20 PM
It's WELL worth the time and so much is true from my perspective; i.e., it's the way I think about writing, too. Thank you for posting the link, mrsmig.

Anyone who knows me—and anyone I beta or edit for—knows my love of writing is in the revision process. This, so much this, from the article:


Revising by the method described is a form of increasing the ambient intelligence of a piece of writing. This, in turn, communicates a sense of respect for your reader. As text is revised, it becomes more specific and embodied in the particular. It becomes more sane. It becomes less hyperbolic, sentimental, and misleading. It loses its ability to create a propagandistic fog. Falsehoods get squeezed out of it, lazy assertions stand up, naked and blushing, and rush out of the room.

The whole article, though—oh, heck, just read it.

Old Hack
03-05-2017, 12:00 AM
It's WELL worth the time and so much is true from my perspective; i.e., it's the way I think about writing, too. Thank you for posting the link, mrsmig.

Anyone who knows me—and anyone I beta or edit for—knows my love of writing is in the revision process.

*respectful pause*

Ari, you're a wonderful beta reader. Just thinking back to all the comments you gave to me before I sent this latest novel out to agents--well. Thank you so much. I couldn't have got this far without you.

And yes, it's a wonderful article.

Marissa D
03-05-2017, 01:27 AM
That was an amazing article--thank you for posting it.

Jason
03-05-2017, 01:55 AM
That was a great read actually - super good info!

I was expecting it to be all jokey-joke kinda stuff like:

Step 1 - "research" by surfing online all morning
Step 2 - Clean crumbs from keyboard due to all the snacks you munched on
Step 3 - Go through several edits from the forum post of your one paragraph rather than adding more paragraphs
Step 4 - Take a much needed break and relieve stress by cooking a couple dozen cookies!

As it turned out, the article was very informative, so tyvm :)

Manuel Royal
03-05-2017, 08:31 AM
I liked that article a lot. Don't think I'll ever go through as many drafts as Mr. Saunders does, but maybe that's why he has a bestseller.

Laer Carroll
03-06-2017, 07:06 AM
My guess is that George Saunders is detailing a process that usually happens much more quickly and intuitively. He's offered an X-ray vision of his writing process, not an actual view of it.

As for me, after writing a dozen books and a hundred short stories I found I tend to get most things right the first time. The lessons I learned from re-writing seeped into my subconscious and became intuitive. I no longer need to think my way through improvement. The material comes out improved.

Then I put the book away for a month or two, and spend my time writing another one. Coming back to the first book the problems are glaringly obvious and (if small) quickly fixed. Larger problems take longer times to fix, but the nature of the fix is usually obvious.

Bottom line: Practice makes better.

BethS
03-31-2017, 11:38 AM
This article by George Saunders was posted today in The Guardian: What Writers Really Do When They Write (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/what-writers-really-do-when-they-write)

It's long, but also thoughtful and funny, and worth the time.

Oh my. I don't think I've ever seen the intuitive process described so beautifully and accurately. I could relate to so much of that.

Helix
03-31-2017, 02:32 PM
That's a great article. Thanks, mrsmig. Lincoln in the Bardo is second from top in my current To Read pile.

Keeping with the Guardian, there's a series called My Writing Day (https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/my-writing-day), which might be of interest.

M Louise
03-31-2017, 03:55 PM
I read this just after I'd read the opening pages of Lincoln in the Bardo and the effect was electrifying -- I've always felt that clear-eyed compassion in George Saunders' short stories and so I liked hearing him mention 'a viral theory of goodness'.

And that quote from Einstein that goes right to the heart of why we always end up so far from where we started in writing anything: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”

mrsmig
03-31-2017, 05:17 PM
That's a great article. Thanks, mrsmig. Lincoln in the Bardo is second from top in my current To Read pile.

Keeping with the Guardian, there's a series called My Writing Day (https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/my-writing-day), which might be of interest.

Ooo, thanks for that link, Helix. I've bookmarked it for weekly perusal.

BethS
03-31-2017, 08:42 PM
That's a great article. Thanks, mrsmig. Lincoln in the Bardo is second from top in my current To Read pile.

Keeping with the Guardian, there's a series called My Writing Day (https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/my-writing-day), which might be of interest.

Oh dear. Another rabbit hole. But such a fascinating one.

blacbird
04-01-2017, 05:36 AM
This thread could easily, and usefully, morph into What Do You Do When You're Writing?l

Me, one of my major tasks is dealing with the charming pestiferous Siamese cat, Millie, who really likes to get up on the back of my chair and purr and nibble at my hair until I take the time to pet her.

caw

Jack Judah
04-01-2017, 06:59 AM
Tremendous article, and timely. I'm slogging through a particularly troublesome rewrite and was losing steam. So thank you for sharing, mrsmig!

I think I'm going to get this bit framed and hung over my desk:


You revise your reader up, in your imagination, with every pass. You keep saying to yourself: “No, she’s smarter than that. Don’t dishonour her with that lazy prose or that easy notion." And in revising your reader up, you revise yourself up too.

Roxxsmom
04-01-2017, 07:39 AM
Nice article.

Phantasmagoria
04-05-2017, 06:32 AM
I really loved this bit:


When I write, “Bob was an asshole,” and then, feeling this perhaps somewhat lacking in specificity, revise it to read, “Bob snapped impatiently at the barista,” then ask myself, seeking yet more specificity, why Bob might have done that, and revise to, “Bob snapped impatiently at the young barista, who reminded him of his dead wife,” and then pause and add, “who he missed so much, especially now, at Christmas,” – I didn’t make that series of changes because I wanted the story to be more compassionate. I did it because I wanted it to be less lame.

But it is more compassionate. Bob has gone from “pure asshole” to “grieving widower, so overcome with grief that he has behaved ungraciously to a young person, to whom, normally, he would have been nice”. Bob has changed. He started out a cartoon, on which we could heap scorn, but now he is closer to “me, on a different day”.

How was this done? Via pursuit of specificity. I turned my attention to Bob and, under the pressure of trying not to suck, my prose moved in the direction of specificity, and in the process my gaze became more loving toward him (ie, more gentle, nuanced, complex), and you, dear reader, witnessing my gaze become more loving, might have found your own gaze becoming slightly more loving, and together (the two of us, assisted by that imaginary grouch) reminded ourselves that it is possible for one’s gaze to become more loving.

It's really true, that being specific and bringing telling detail into a story is what brings it to life (and elevates it). I also really liked that he focused on how his gaze became more loving toward his character and thus the reader's gaze might move in that direction too.

Great article!

megan_d
04-05-2017, 10:43 AM
Great article, thank you for sharing!

I feel like my characters are strangers for the first draft, it's only in revision I actually get to know them.

vicky271
04-28-2017, 07:26 AM
Thank you for sharing! I've bookmarked it for future read!

Snitchcat
04-28-2017, 01:08 PM
Bookmarked and saved!

Thank you for sharing this!

_lvbl
06-29-2017, 09:16 PM
O be still my heart, George Saunders ...

randi.lee
06-29-2017, 09:40 PM
Thank you for sharing! Definitely worth the read.

Alpha Echo
06-29-2017, 09:50 PM
It's WELL worth the time and so much is true from my perspective; i.e., it's the way I think about writing, too. Thank you for posting the link, mrsmig.

Anyone who knows me—and anyone I beta or edit for—knows my love of writing is in the revision process. This, so much this, from the article:



The whole article, though—oh, heck, just read it.

I haven't read it yet, but I wanted to chime in - revision has always been my favorite thing too. I feel like it's not really a story the first time through. I'm just getting the bones down on paper. But when I go back and start reading and making changes, the characters come alive, and the story really evolves. If I get high when I'm writing the first draft, I'm floating above the clouds while I'm revising.

KTC
06-29-2017, 10:31 PM
I LOVED THIS!!!!!!!!!!!


A work of fiction can be understood as a three-beat movement: a juggler gathers bowling pins; throws them in the air; catches them.

MythMonger
06-30-2017, 12:10 AM
When I started my second manuscript a couple of years back, I realized that almost all of my writing experience had been in the revision phase. I had eight drafts of my first manuscript, and nothing else. Now I'm in the sixth draft of that second manuscript, and... still most of my experience is with revision. :)

I'm just glad to see that having so many revisions of the same manuscript is a natural process for other writers, too.

AnthonyDavid11
07-08-2017, 07:33 AM
Wow. That's really quite deep. I agree with the notion that an artist looks at his/her own work over and over again, tweaking more or less for hours and hours. I've never worked on any other project as much as I have on my current WIP and I can say with confidence that I prefer it to anything else I have written. It is much richer by far, but I've also really taken my time with it. Obviously he took his time with this work and it sounds like it could be a great read. Excellent post!

emstar94
08-02-2017, 06:10 PM
Love it