Nothing is Ever Written in Stone

Today’s discussion was prompted by a change I had to make while working on Lights and Shadows, Chapter 10. Yes, we’re going to find out what Finch found in the Lab and how it moves the investigation forward, but you’ll have to wait for the next update to find out what that will be. 😉

It is my general opinion that Creativity, as it applies to storytelling, is that anything created can be recreated and by extension, changed at will until The Final Draft. Yes, I’m Old School in that I don’t like to make a ton of updates once the final version is in place. Otherwise, nothing ever gets done and progress cannot be made. Period.

I’m rarely in love with a scene the first time I write it. Not enough detail, poorly described, doesn’t give a sense of Place and Time, etc. I am my own worst editor and critic. But I feel I have to be that way because if I don’t like it, my audience sure as hell won’t and I can’t have that. Yes, I often kill my darlings, but it’s necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the story at large.

Don’t fear change. If something doesn’t feel right, axe it and put something better in place. You can do it and only you know what is ultimately right for your story.

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19 thoughts on “Nothing is Ever Written in Stone

  1. To paraphrase Edison, “You haven’t failed. You’ve just found 2000 ways how not to write this story.”

    Yes, trial and error is really the necessary part of the process, isn’t it? Only 1-2 scenes in the entirety of Paradisa has been edited less than 10% since its initial conception. Some have been about 20-30% edited, many 100%! But you don’t know what works until you finish it, go through, experience it. Sometimes things are better than you initially expect though. Weirdly, the most difficult scenes to write are some of the most enjoyable to read later on.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. There are some scenes that I have written in the past that felt like pulling teeth, but when I went back and read them as part of the finished story, they would blow me away. 🙂

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  2. Although I don’t write fiction, I often have to remove whole paragraphs I’ve written for my blog. I know it’s only a post, but even at this modest level, it can still be a wrench to cut out something I’ve spent half the afternoon working on. I completely agree that it’s necessary, though. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

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      • Every time I finish a long-term project, I promise myself that I’m going to take a break…and then I never do. The biggest compensation that I find for all the hours that I devote is that I have complete control over what I write and how I write it.

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      • Yes, that is very true. I have very slender writing credentials, but I did have a couple of minor articles published in local magazines a few years ago. I didn’t mind that they might have to be edited. I didn’t even mind that they might have to edited a lot. I thought I might be able to use the changes as a way of learning and improving.

        In the event, I was shocked to find how much worse the articles could sometimes be after they’d been edited. It suddenly struck me that editors as much as writers vary in quality. Some of them know what they are doing and some of them clearly have no idea.

        The good thing about having a blog is that if there are clumsy passages or sentences that don’t really work, they are at least infelicities that came from me rather than ones added by someone else.

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      • The problem with editing is that outside of the basics (grammar, punctuation, etc), it becomes very subjective to the individual. I mean, the story that I tell may be different than the one you do and the changes have to reflect that individuality. Never mind that I can’t afford the rates of most “professional” editors, who often approach different materials without a sense of the original author’s intent. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself though.

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      • Although I don’t have much experience of the issue, I imagine that since authors and writers both vary in their approach, some combinations of individuals are likely to be much more successful than others. In other words, some editors with “get” you and others simply won’t.

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