• U.S. members: The Federal Government is offering each household in the United States four (4) free at-home Covid-19 test kits. https://www.covidtests.gov/

Every Book is Different.

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

RichardGarfinkle

Nurture Phoenixes
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 2, 2012
Messages
10,478
Reaction score
1,612
Location
Walking the Underworld
Website
www.richardgarfinkle.com
One of the things I say a lot to people wondering how to go about writing is that every book is different. What is needed to write each book is unique to that book. A writer needs to develop a good suite of skills, because you never know what you're going to need.

I thought a thread about those unique experiences might be good as a space for sharing and getting a sense that, yeah, there's no standard method even for an individual writer.

My WIP is SFF (it has both science fiction and fantasy elements). It is a sequel to two others one is fantasy the other science fiction. Essentially, both of those books converge into this one. That's just background. Writing this book has been an experience totally unlike any book I've done before.

I wrote the first draft in a couple of months. At no point did I have any conscious clue what was going to happen next. It was completely written by what Terry Pratchett called the better writer in the back of the mind.

The second draft was more standard. I went over the book chapter by chapter adding, elaborating, cutting, the usual stuff. I assumed that I would follow what had been my usual pattern (two to three rewrite drafts followed by a read outloud cleanup draft). I usually take a break of between two weeks and a month between drafts.

About a month and a half ago, ideas would start popping up that required insertion in the book. I'd go hunting through the chapters for where the new things belonged and I'd write them in. This kept happening. All the while I was wondering when I would start the third draft. Sometime in the last two days I finally realized that I had been writing the third draft, just by a method I had never used before. I don't know how long this will go on or what the draft after it will involve. But it's been a fun and wild and strange ride.
 
Last edited:

Maggie Maxwell

Making Einstein cry since 1994
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 21, 2013
Messages
10,422
Reaction score
5,093
Location
In my head
Website
thewanderingquille.blogspot.com
I love the "oh, this book needs this scene. Where can I fit it?" surprises. For me, I tend to leave time gaps in my stories. Not intentionally, I just reach places where there's downtime for the characters and not much happens. Typically, sometime after the first draft, an idea will float in, maybe from a dream, maybe a song lyric (I might have added a party to my undead novel after hearing Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo that let me develop side characters more), maybe just an idle thought, and I have to look through my time gaps to find where it can fit. In the end, my characters usually have no more downtime moments and my story is considerably longer, and often much more developed. It's a technique I often recommend to people who write short edit long, like I do.

My own development has been from pantser to plotter, with my early stories being mostly off the wing and surprising me with unexpected twists, while my later ones had to be plotted out if I didn't want to end up running head first into a wall. It's interesting to see how we personally evolve as writers with the techniques we discover, develop, and drop as we progress.
 

ChickenWriter10

Registered
Joined
Sep 19, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
8
I agree that every book has it's grammar problems, great parts, mysteries, and things where you can learn and grow in your writing! I have a motto that I use when I am writing a book and it is "Live for the mistake!" Making mistakes is part of life. when making a book, follow these steps:

1. brainstorm
2. write!
3. read it over to add parts
4. edit, (But be kind to yourself)
5. publish
 

Nether

is not a Supervillain
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
917
Reaction score
755
Location
New England
While I'm guessing you mean this as more of a broad rule, I've started to try out different styles each book -- changes to prose, POVs, tenses, etc. The hardest adjustment was going heavier on descriptions and not using italicized thoughts in book 6, which were among the reasons that one gave me more trouble.

Because I'm an outliner and I write relatively clean first drafts, I hate rewrites with a passion. However, even as I was going through book 6, it was with the realization I'd need to do rewrites when it was over. (Whereas book 5 I just need to smooth out the timeline, and

Revision-wise, I think right now my biggest issues are:

Book 1 -- I have a major plot gimmick that I could probably simplify. And then length is an issue, because it's 102k words and needs to be closer to 70k. (I got confused regarding length, and by the time I realized my mistake, it was already too long).

Book 2 -- I have an A-plot and a B-plot. However, I set up the B-plot first (despite the A-plot being more important), and the two resolve each other around the same time (because they're linked by the end). I need to do more to keep the A-plot going.

Book 3 -- I haven't gone through it as much, but *most* of it makes sense. I had to make a hard decision near the end that likely saved me a lot of additional editing time to make the idea work. However, because books 2 & 3 are sequels to 1, I'm not as worried about these

Book 4 -- One recurring comment from critique partners, betas, etc, is that it's lacking description and some setting details that would help to establish things more clearly in their mind. That and they have a different impression and expectation regarding something because of a real-world connotation, meaning I might need to -- and I'll be super-pissed if it's necessary -- change a term for something and change my book's title.

Book 5 -- I need to smooth out the timeline, clarifying a sequence of events for things happening now. I probably also need to more clearly establish the setting. In general, it has a lot going on.

Book 6 -- It's a complete mess. I need to make some character changes, there are a few structural changes, I might revamp one of the magic systems (although I like the current theming), and... I'm a little tempted to break it into two books because I have those two magic systems (with the second book starting at where he begins to learn the new magic system). And the love interest feels a little eh, although the immediate attraction is justified from a few pragmatic standpoints.

Book 7 -- Probably going to need some prose and continuity fixes. I'm not used to writing in first-person present tense, and I imagine there's some repetition (thoughts, specific word use, etc) that needs to be fixed.

But I imagine I'll eventually hit some consistency once I see what sells versus what doesn't. Considering I only started writing again under 11 months ago and didn't start anything related to crit partners or betas until about two months ago, I'm still early into the process. I'm just hoping to query book 4 before long but... my last critique partner is taking a while. Once I get those notes back, I might try a round with the smaller revisions as-is and, if I can't land an agent, then I'll try the drastic, crazy revisions before giving it another query round next year.
 

ChaseJxyz

Writes birds and bird accessories
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
1,448
Reaction score
1,006
Location
The Rottenest City on the Pacific Coast
Website
www.chasej.xyz
I use fanfiction to try out different concepts, as I can focus on the new techniques or styles and not have to worry about establishing characters/settings/plot. One of my favorites is from the POV of the villain, jumping between his normal person life and his relationship with his normal person boyfriend, and his efforts as a villain fighting the hero (who he laters finds out is actually his boyfriend). The whole piece is <2k words, each "scene" is really short, with each jump being done to increase the angst/tension. And as I was writing out this explanation I realized oh, I'm doing the same thing with my werewolf novel, which is cool!

I also wrote a 14 chapter 37k word piece that I knew would span X number of days (in the story), I knew how it would start and end, some scenes in the middle, but there were a lot of holes. I actually sat down and built an outline, I struggled with some chapters, redid others, but I was super happy with the finished product! It was also the first time I had written a proper story with a start, middle, and ending in years, so I had to re-learn a lot of things I've forgotten. That really prepared me for writing my main WIP.

I aim to trigger a specific feeling/tone/aesthetic/vibe with my stories, so each one is naturally different. Sometimes I want to be really mean and lean heavily into the angst, sometimes I want things to be extremely rad, sometimes I have an Absolutely Terrible, Stupid Idea and I want to lean into the weirdness as hard as I can, regardless of what's "sellable" or "standard" for the genre. Each approach will be slightly different since the end goal is always different, but if I wrote the same thing over and over again, I would get very bored and then nothing would ever be completed.
 

doctor cat person

Registered
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
42
Reaction score
68
About a month and a half ago, ideas would start popping up that required insertion in the book. I'd go hunting through the chapters for where the new things belonged and I'd write them in. This kept happening.

Must be contagious. I have a lengthy Google Keep note with bulletpoint ideas that pop into my head to add in to my current draft. Some of it is cause I'm reading some non-fiction for research purposes, so sometimes I'll get an idea based on that. Other times, it's good ol' shower time and whatnot that sets my brain to throwing stuff out.

Never had the idea storm to quite this extent. I'm taking it as a sign that this current WIP is gonna be GREAT.
 

CMBright

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
962
At a basic level, there are expectations readers (or viewers of TV/movies) have. Fail to meet those expectations, I start complaining about gratuitous sex, violence AND neon or that it was an hour of surrealist motion picture bracketed by the set up and ending scenes. (Two rather memorable movies, don't remember either title)

Yes, every story has unique characters, setting, etc. But with the possible exception of Man Vs. Science, every basic conflict goes back at least to the Greek plays and possibly as far back as when languages were developed and we scribbled on cave walls for reasons.

I still love stories. Books, movies, TV, anime, you name it. I am still learning and improving when it comes to writing my own stories.

Your Mileage on this subject May Vary from my humble opinion.
 

RichardGarfinkle

Nurture Phoenixes
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 2, 2012
Messages
10,478
Reaction score
1,612
Location
Walking the Underworld
Website
www.richardgarfinkle.com
At a basic level, there are expectations readers (or viewers of TV/movies) have. Fail to meet those expectations, I start complaining about gratuitous sex, violence AND neon or that it was an hour of surrealist motion picture bracketed by the set up and ending scenes. (Two rather memorable movies, don't remember either title)

Yes, every story has unique characters, setting, etc. But with the possible exception of Man Vs. Science, every basic conflict goes back at least to the Greek plays and possibly as far back as when languages were developed and we scribbled on cave walls for reasons.

I still love stories. Books, movies, TV, anime, you name it. I am still learning and improving when it comes to writing my own stories.

Your Mileage on this subject May Vary from my humble opinion.

This thread was started to discuss how writing each book is unique to that book.
The question of literary uniqueness from the reader’s perspective is a whole other question.
 

ap123

Twitching
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 4, 2007
Messages
5,412
Reaction score
1,222
Location
In the 212
I love this as a topic! I often see people say I used to X, and now I Y, but for me the answer is so often, it depends. If I ever write a craft book (I won't) I think I'd title it, It Depends.

What you're describing in this (third) draft though is my general writing process. I tend to not write well delineated drafts, but edit and go back to weave in as I go. :)
 

lizmonster

Possibly A Mermaid Queen
Absolute Sage
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
9,632
Reaction score
5,919
Location
Massachusetts
Website
elizabethbonesteel.com
The thing I find has the most influence on my composition process is everything else in my life.

Organizationally...I find the big common denominator is what goes wrong, not what goes right. If I try to do too much revision while I'm drafting, I stall. If I try to work out every detail before I have a completed draft, I stall. I have four finished novels (well, three; one is in its final polishing throes) and one that's been about 3/4 done for 4 years. I have learned I will spin forever without an external deadline.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away