Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Story - writing quickly

I've been thinking a lot lately about writing quickly. It's something I haven't mastered.

Well, actually, I can write quickly...but it's pretty one-dimensional. I need time to go back and layer upon layer upon layer. There are so many things I miss in that first quick write.

Some of the things I miss are:
  • emotion
  • depth ie making the story and characters deeper than what I come up with first off
  • character nuances
  • repetition by the bucket full
  • explanations as to why/how things are happening
  • creating a smooth emotional arc for the characters (in my first drafts they're mad, then happy within seconds for no fathomable reason)
  • descriptions of people and clothes and stuff like that
  • mixing it up, so it's not the same words and phrases and actions used 
I think they're pretty important things in telling a good story.

I've read a couple of books lately where the writing is good, but the characters are missing something, or their emotional arc is jerky and not quite right. Do you know the ones? Where you read but you're not totally into the characters, there's something just not quite right.

And then I was thinking about the speed of publication in the digital age. Mostly self-publishing, where the current advice is to have a book out every 3 months. I can't do that. Not if I want my story to be more than one dimensional, and miss out on that list plus whatever else I put on that list.

Maybe I'm a slow writer, or thinker. I can crack out a 100K in 3 months if I get a good run. I did one in 6 weeks once when I needed to purge. It was shit, but it was written.

Maybe it's because I don't plot it out first, but my first drafts aren't always right. Who am I kidding? They're never right. I need to go back and tighten the story, make sure things are put in early that I might need later on. I sometimes need to ditch a whole bit where I wandered down the wrong path. Usually I need to restructure the whole ending. I never have my characters reacting properly, I always have to smooth that out and go over and over to get the emotional responses right.

None of that happens in a hurry. If I can write in 6 weeks, then it takes twice that to edit and tweak it - at least.

So I'm at nearly 5 months for 100K book, minimum. If I'm waiting on people to read and critique, add in a few more weeks. I'd be lucky to get 2 books out a year. Sure, I have a day job and I don't write 7 days a week, or in every spare minute. I have a husband who deserves some attention ;)

All that thinking has me looking at a lot of self-published books in a new light. Are they first drafts? Is that why they're missing the highly nuanced bits that I require to enjoy them? Am I a book snob wanting this extra?

I suspect I am a book snob. I belong to a book group. I read, dissect and analyse every story. I want value for my money. I want a book to transport me places, with people I want to spend time with.

After saying all this, I don't believe what I produce is perfect. I find flaws as soon as they're gone. But I'm hoping each story improves as I learn more. I'm hoping that one day I can produce books I won't want to change. Maybe I need to look at other authors that way too. *sigh* I'm so hard on people.

Do you have any thoughts?


  1. I think my writing has improved from the first book, and that's a good thing. I hope it's like art, or dance, or anything where the more you practice it, the better you get at it. I think if you know a book is by a debut author and you're enjoying the actual story (plot) - you could come some slack if there's a section where the writing craft went a bit wrong. (If it's self-pubbed). But if it's a boring, badly written story - that's different.

    1. This was more where characters were inconsistent, or 'flat'. Where they did things that made no sense. Stuff i thought an editor or beta reader should have noticed...maybe I'm being harsh.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Lily :)

      Cate xoxo