1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Insecurities & Issues that creep up as your word count gets high

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mallory, Aug 29, 2011.

    So I'm about 53,000 words into my current WIP. I don't have issues with grammar/spelling/punctuation, and I'm relatively good with show-not-tell, tone-setting, word choice, etc - I'm not saying I'm perfect by any means, but those aren't the areas of my writing I worry about.

    What I worry about are the big-picture things. I.e. when the plot takes 180-degree turns, or there's an unexplained mystery that you can't seem to find room to tie in anywhere, or when you know a character is flat or cliche and that fixing him/her in revision will take lots of work.

    I'm not asking for advice on anything in specific. I have my plot mapped out until the end, and my revision process will mainly consist of those big-picture issues, like
    1) Character development - adding dimensions and layers to the secondary characters, giving them issues of their own that tie in to the bigger plot (there's no need to do this for Every Single Minor Character of course but you get the idea) etc.
    2) Fleshing out certain things that are important parts of the story but just get skimmed over
    3) Adding extra scenes that contribute to fleshing out the plot, characterization, etc
    4) Cutting scenes that don't need to be there

    Etc., and that will fix most of the insecurities I'm having and aspects of my story I'm not pleased with. But right now, my worry is "What if I finish and it's full of plot holes and corniness and I hate it?"
    A good friend assured me that's not the case, but still, I worry. I know I have it in me to make it awesome post-revision, but it'll be a messy process.

    Kind of looking forward to revision, actually.

    So, I guess my question is......

    What kind of issues do you face when you get far (past 40,000-ish words, or more than halfway) into your novel?

    What is the hardest part of revision for you?

    What did you worry about most while writing the unrevised version of the novel?

    Just for the sake of discussion and comparison. :)
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Usually in a first run through I'll either nail the plot or miss it by several hundred degrees somewhere along the way, so often 2nd and 3rd revisions I detour from the script pretty early on and only use my original writing from the opening or something. But with things that weren't just an experiment or something I was playing with but a serious attempt to write a novel I'd like to see finished I give it more thought from the outset. :p

    Things I've had to revise in recent revisions:

    Changing the viewpoint. Particularly where the obvious character to follow in the first draft was not the one with any good emotional story. I switched viewpoint characters to someone who was a lot more emotionally invested in the plot itself for one thing recently. That required a clean re-write since I also went from 3rd person to 1st, but it was for the best: I kept getting to the 3/4 mark of the story (which was around a 200,000 word investment) before realising something wasn't right and it took me 3 attempts to figure out what. Other stories I've only opened up or closed the 3rd person from an omnipotent to a close one or vice versa which doesn't take half so much editing: just some jiggling and adding/removing scenes.

    Mostly cutting/expanding. Sometimes things are too short or too long. Since I've been working on a series and have 4 finished novels in it I need some consistency, but the first was 62,000 words and the last 42,000, each one shorter than the last on the way. I've trimmed to 59,000 on the first one and intend to run through and just pad up all my sentences in the others. I figure if I get them all within 10,000 words of each other in length it won't look too ridiculous on the shelf. I'll also start adding scenes, since going upwards is better though they're YA, I'm guessing most people expect a series to put on weight rather than gain anorexia as we go through. :p

    I don't have many issues with my writing style, really. As I revise I will chop up some sentences, and I'm trying to train myself out of using dashes, so I get a lot more colons and semicolons and sentence breaks in there. I sometimes feel like I need to add more description, but I think that's actually more because in the series I've been focussing on I don't repeat the world-building. It's still something I look out for as I go, and I tend to add smaller lines and one word here or there as I go, just like if I had a big lumpy clay statue, and as I was going I was just etching a few more details in it here and there: it's already all in place and you can see what it is, but it won't harm anything to add in another few lines. :D

    And I'm always on high plot hole alert, but thankfully I've never had to call my Plot Hole SWAT Team into action.
     
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  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get my doubts pretty early on. Hell, I've got a whole load of doubts about a plot I haven't even started yet.

    My problem arises from the strange nature of my writing; I seem to only be able to complete a few stories, and it's not because of any bull business of "Writer's Block" or lack of motivation. It's just that some plots some across as really cool, but I've got no connection to it, I guess?

    Or I'll have a plot that requires a lot of planning, which is something I can't do.

    Or there's the other problem of having a plot that starts a certain way that I love, but then for no apparent reason, I take it in a weird direction and no matter what I do, I can't think of it in the original way any more.

    Thankfully, I'm on a plot I absolutely love at the moment that it looks like I'll actually be able to finish. *Phew*
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why worry about any of that?... why don't you just write until you get to the end?

    if you do that, you may not have to ask any of those writing-time-wasting questions...

    what anyone else does/did should have no bearing on what you do... period!
     
  5. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    One issue I have is that if the crap first draft gets to crappy I lose my way in the story and have to got back and revise just so I can keep shoveling more crap. Somewhere around halfway I hit a plateau that keeps me from moving forward for a while (because I'm going back to fix plot holes). I think anytime that happens insecurities creep in.

    The hardest part of revision for me was finding help, someone to read and give feedback that was actually helpful. You really have something valuable when you find an editor and/or a critic group that you really mesh with. I went so far as to babysit, do laundry and cook meals for a lady in my critic group so she would have time to edit my book. :) It was worth it.
     
  6. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    I've dealt with all the issues you are talking about.

    And if you don't find plotholes in your first draft, you might not be looking hard enough. Plotholes aren't as hard to fix as you probably think they are. I've had to fix a ton of them.

    Anyway, I'm on the 20th draft of my 73,000 word novel and I'm pretty terrified at this point that even though I've spent hundreds of hours on it, its still a pile of crap that will not get published and that I wasted all my time and that I just suck.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Gee, Mal, don't lose momentum now. You're usually the one giving encouragement to the rest of us.

    I'm in a similar position to you, but my attitude at this point is to get what's in my head down on paper and get the first draft finished. I already know it's going to be too long, I already know there are things that need to be fleshed out and things that need to be cut, and I already know that there are inconsistencies in some of the details and parts of the timeline that don't hook up exactly the right way. I also know that I've been dropping new characters here and there like so many appleseeds, and that I'm going to have to go back later and figure out how many stay and how many get sent to Deletionland.

    My philosophy is: that's why we invented the First Draft. That's my focus - get the first draft done. If I worry too much now about what I'm going to have to do on the subsequent drafts (and I usually have a bunch of them), I'll never finish the first one.

    Good luck. And if you need me to beta read for you, just let me know. It'll be a pleasure.
     
  8. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Don't! Don't even ask. Don't look for validation outside of yourself, don't take a breather to see if others are struggling too, just keep writing.

    One of the worst things is to stop, feed your doubts, and worry about all the stuff you haven't done. I learned that the hard way, hell I still struggle with not letting myself get caught up with the earlier stuff that I've written because it WILL confirm my insecurities because there will be crappy passages through the story. And instead of looking at all the good stuff that I've done, I'll be focusing on the bad. I wonder if I did that right, that doesn't feel right, that whole part needs to be revised. Don't, just don't stop and keep writing.

    Anytime that I've stopped and have decided to take accounting for all the things I've done and have measured them, it's fed my doubts. Anytime I stop looking towards the future and focus on the past parts that have already been written, I feed my doubts. And the worst thing part is when you no longer have fun writing because you're insecurities have crept up.

    Just keep writing, don't compare, don't seek validation of your insecurities or your successes, just keep writing.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Guys I'm not losing momentum. :) Don't worry lol, I wrote a good 1,600 words or so last night. I just started this thread for the sake of discussion of worries we all might have as we get far along, hence, not asking for validation (as I said in the OP, right?)

    I still have fun writing and am making nice progress. I just know that my revision will be a lot of work but also a lot of fun because certain things will be re-shaped, but after my first initial write-through (and reading of, and marking up of, the whole manuscript) I'll know exactly how to do it. Looking forward to that point.

    But yeah, I'm slated to get to 55K today, so it's coming along just fine.

    Amy, I know what you mean about crits. Ususally I'm the one GIVING the tough critiques in my writers' groups, and have a harder time getting them, but I do have a few friends who can sit down and give my book the butchering it needs where it needs it, which is good. Once I get past a certain point, I do need in-person critiques because problems and issues are so much easier to discuss when discussing it live than,say, via email (or even phone). But that was so nice of you to actually babysit, cook, etc for your critiquer. I wish you were in my workshop group lol .
    Mel - Cutting and expanding is going to be a big deal for me, too. I don't have problems with my writing style either, and thankfully I won't have to change the viewpoint. Whew.

    Katica - OMG, I totally agree with your statement that if you don't find plot holes you aren't looking hard enough. And congratulations on your 73,000. I'll be there soon! :)
     
  10. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    You name it, I've thought it. Start to finish, I redefine insecurity. lol Too much this, too little that. Should the character really die? Do I write the same story again and again? Can I square this outcome with my faith? If I do this, will the reader be pissed? Insecurities, insecurities, insecurities. lol Not to mention, I come here, and every other thread seems to tell you how hopeless it is to be a writer and all of the things that you simply HAVE to do (only you really don't have to do it, but you kind of do, but not if you don't think you have to). (NO OFFENSE intended writing forums. I am semi-messing with you all. :p It's just that all the "advice" on here can sometimes be, discouraging? lol) Maybe it's just me. I dunno. All I know is that pinning down any single insecurity is like trying to catch only a specific grain of rice in a boiling pot of water. There're just too many.
     
  11. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The truth is that even after the tenth revision you will still be insecure. That's the nature of writing. I don't think any writer can look at their work and say this is perfect at any point be it first draft or final. I don't even think any writer can look at their work and say without a doubt that what they've spent months upon months crafting still isn't anything more than mediocre. The fact that you're writing it means you're far from the best judge of it, and this leaves you liable to a raft of insecurities. All we can do is write until we can't think of any more ways to improve it.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    You think it's one of those things that isn't a problem then you get to the end and you take a long look at it and then you have to groan. :p

    Even with my super awesome series of awesomeness I've had viewpoint problems. It's meant to be told by a different narrator in each book, but for a couple I couldn't decide who was going to narrate which. For one story, I wrote at least a few chapters from three viewpoints before I settled the matter. :p For another I wrote 90% of the story before I decided it just wasn't going to work out. Fortunately that one at least the character I swapped it to was around for a lot of the story so I kept a lot of the events and description and conversation, and just cut the parts where the old narrator was alone and added parts she didn't see with the new one. Even copied over the jokes >_<

    *sometimes feels like a hack writer* :p
     
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  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always seem to suffer a self confidence dip somewhere along the way, usually when I'm almost at the end, or even after having just finished and reading it through and realizing what a crappy draft it is indeed :D Plot, character development, descriptions, viewpoint, you name it, I'm my worst critic and the current WIP I have abbandoned and taken up again more times than I can count (it's been little over a year and like 3 drafts, other stories came in between). But I always tell myself I have all the time in the world to improve it :D and if it will never reach presentable shape I can always look at it as exercise material. :p I really want to write this story and I will finish it and make it the way I want it if it is the last thing I do!!!
     
  14. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Seeking validation is not always directly related to your writing. It's also the looking around to see where every one else is and thinking you need to do it to or measuring your progress according to other people. "Oh, you're already reading publishing and marketing books?" Maybe I should do that too. "Oh, you're attending a workshop?" Shiz, I need to get on my ball game and attend workshops too. "Oh you're already sending your first chapters out to a beta reader or editor." Crap, I need to do that too. "Oh, you're still reading books AND writing AND working AND blah blah blah." Shiz! Another "to do" on my list.

    Sorry if your post wasn't meant to be seen as seeking validation, it's how I interpreted it though.
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Sundae - I think it's possible to have a discussion simply for the sake of discussing something we can all relate to, and our unique perspectives on it, without seeking validation.
    Lots of posts can come across a certain way when we don't intend them too, I guess. ;) ;)

    --------

    Tesoro, that's a great mindset that you have about how you have all the time to finish and you aren't going to be hard on yourself, because you want to finish at all costs.
    I've always thought that the difference between a real writer and a wannabe writer is the amount of dedication and determination you have - an "amateur" writer can always grow and get to be at the bestseller level with the right determination (we were all beginners once after all) but someone who just sits there and says "I want to be a writer," without actually writing, won't get far.
     

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