• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Monday, June 28, 2010

What Type of Writer are You?

I've done a lot of research on the craft of writing. Some things I learn are easier to assimilate into my writing technique than others. For instance, I've read several articles from well known, successful authors who recommend you write your manuscript, start to finish, without looking back until you've completed the entire first draft.

How is this possible? Not look back? I can't do it! I can't I tell you!

I know, I've heard the warning.....If you keep going back to perfect the first chapter, you'll never get past the first chapter. I'm proud to tell you I've conquered this problem, although it took a while.

The way I write now is, I get a scene/chapter into the computer. Usually I think it's nowhere close to as good as it was in my head, and I get frustrated. The next day, however, I come back, review it, add details, flush out setting/characterization, edit extraneous words, and I start to like it. It's usually not until the day after that, after I've edited/revised it a few more times, that I feel ready to move on. That's not to say it's perfect, because further changes are often needed when I do my final edit of the manuscript as a whole.

Another thing I like to do is, when I first sit down to write, I read over the chapter before the one I'm working on, to get myself back into my characters' heads. See...I don't know how to not look back!!!

So what about you? Do you write/revise, write/revise, write/revise until you're done? Or do you write the entire first draft, start to finish, before revising? And which way do you think is best?


  1. I write totally hybrid-- or like I cook. I know what the ingredients are, know the end result and play all the way through the rest of it, but I've learned that I need to know the four acts really well and the plot points. Then I can play. I layer in the details and go back and forth between scenes and chapters as the story tightens up.

    I can't wait to read your books when they are published!

  2. I do more of a straight line through (though as I mentioned in my Sunday blog post, I do way more editing at this stage than I want to). However, I will go back and put a note into an earlier chapter to remind myself of something I just wrote that I think I'll want to foreshadow, say. Or maybe I'll find that birds have become a motif in the final half of the book, but they're missing from the first half, and I'll make a note about it in the text (right there, or near the beginning) so I'm sure to fix it.

    I don't want to re-read as I go, because my greatest fear is I'll get tired of the story, maybe even before I'm finished!

  3. Hi Christine!
    Thanks for taking time from your vacation to visit my blog!

    Let's hear it for positive thinking! If your books are anywhere near as entertaining as your blog, I will be first in line at Borders on the day they come out!

  4. Hi John!
    You are spot on! Constant re-reading of my earlier chapters makes me tire of them. After reading them so often I no longer find them entertaining, and sometimes I need to take a break from the story for that very reason. Like I do with my children, I think I need to start setting limits!

  5. Wendy,

    I try to do a 'dirty draft' but it just doesn't work out that way. So, I guess you could say I'm a write/revise type person.

    And, how can you not move forward without looking at what you've already written? It helps me with consistency. But, I still have to write character's names down as I forget them quickly. . .

    Great post, BTW.

    Abbi :-)

  6. Hi Abbi!
    Welcome to the write/revise club! (No membership dues required!) Sounds like we have a similar style. Dare I say great minds think alike?

  7. I keep a little mind map (spiders web like creation with lots of colours) to ensure I cover all parts of the story I want to. I have been known to rewrite Chapter One three times, all starting at completely different points, until I got the one I was happy with. Couldn't move on to chapter two until I felt the story started on the right foot.
    I get very bored with reading the same chapters again and again, so thank goodness for critique partners! I also find i start to skim read and can miss spelling mistakes, grammatical errors that are very simple. Thank goodness for a fresh pair of eyes!

  8. Hi Susan!
    Your map sounds like a great idea! Finding the perfect place to start a manuscript is very difficult....and a critical step in how the first three chapters will be received!

    I visited a blog yesterday where a medical romance author was posting and she said to her knowledge, Medical Romance takes on about one new author per year. It upset me to think we may be competing for the same spot! (And that you already have your revisions done!) What will be will be. I'll keep doing what I'm doing until the editor I'm working with tells me she's had enough of me! And I'll still keep my fingers crossed that your manuscript is a hit! Good luck!

  9. I'm a write and revise kind of girl! When I sit down to write, I always look back at what I previously wrote and then edit a little. I find it helps me get back into the right mood of the scene/chapter since I often have to stop writing at odd places. (The kids make my writing schedule, not me!) However, I try not to let myself get too caught up in revisions and I make sure to always more forward during each writing session. I'm not sure I could write an entire novel without ever looking back at it!

  10. Hi Heather!
    Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to the write/revise club! Making sure to always move forward during each writing session is uber important! Thanks for pointing that out!

  11. The first draft I rarely go back and revise. But once I'm revising, I feel like I spend hours on the same bloody page! I started breaking the chapters up and creating a new document for each. That way my goal was to get through the whole chapter in a session and it forced me to not agonize on sentences overlong.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  12. Hi Angela!
    When I write I maintain each chapter as a seperate document then combine them all into one document before I submit.

    Re: Spending hours on the same bloody page: I do the same, but usually over the course of a few days. Sometimes it's necessary to make that page shine!

  13. Wendy, I'm a draft writer, usually but several of my books have been almost novellas though they're interconnected. These I usually try to get one section done before I go to the next. I try not to spend hours on a single page but I also have been known to rip out a scene and do another one. I'm doing this with my latest project. I'll tear up the first scene and re-do. Why. Too much information that makes the readers and the characters to go off in twenty directions at once.

  14. Hi Janet!
    It's such a fine line between too much information and not enough. In my present WIP I am making major changes. Sometimes it's easier to start a scene over than edit it.

  15. Hey Wendy!

    I, too, write & revise as I go. I write/revise one chapter at a time, which are usually 2000 to 3000 words each. Then I move on to the next one. It usually takes me about 8 - 10 days to complete a chapter. Unless, of course, like now, I have no idea where to go next. Then I work on something else while the muse percolates.

    Sometimes--many times--I have to go back and re-read a chapter just to refresh my memory about what happened or what the emotion was.

  16. I'm back in the web-world. June was a tough one, but july is looking up. :)

    Love this topic. I'm like you, Wendy. That straight dash through the first draft stuff is just not for me. I need to feel comfortable that each chapter is 'built' to a certain level before I can put on the next layer of brick.

  17. Hi Jen!
    Glad to have you as a member of the write/revise club! I guess it's more common than I'd thought. I hope you made good use of your family's time away!

  18. Yay!!! Regina's back!!! I've missed you. So many times I stopped by your blog and wanted to post a comment, but I figured you were busy with important things...or taking a much needed break. As usual, your analogy is perfect. I agree, it's important to be comfortable with the stability of each chapter before you put on the next layer of brick!

  19. Hi, Wendy,

    This sounds pretty much like what I do. It's on each chapter edit that I include more sensory details. I'm not sure how it's possible to write without editing. I wouldn't get ahead if I don't make the chapter as right as it can be for the moment.

  20. Hi Joy!
    Thanks for stopping by! It's usually not until my third or fourth edit that I like a chapter I've written. A lot of mornings I'll wake up with new ideas of things to add.