1. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Polish as you go? Or not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mad_hatter, Jul 9, 2015.

    Do you polish your novels on a chapter-by-chapter basis, getting each one to a point where it at least feels finished, before moving on to the next?

    Or do you just vomit draft the whole thing first, before starting the polish from start to finish?

    Is there some recommended method? Or is it each to their own?
     
  2. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    You could polish as you go if you have the time. But it's always good to put your ideas down first so you could either do chapter by chapter polishing or write it all first then polish. Unless you have a spongy brain where you know exactly what your next sentence is, I would say after is probably better.
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I try to hit the middle ground, in that I always go over what I wrote 'yesterday' and see if I can make it better, or more closely resemble what I meant to accomplish. But then I move on. I definitely don't get hung up, writing and rewriting everything, crafting every sentence to perfection at that stage. Why? Because I might well end up needing to tweak it a lot, or even ditch it all during the edit, once the story is finished. Focus changes, plots can change, characters can develop in ways you didn't expect. Even your scenery and settings can change. So don't make it difficult to accomodate these changes. Don't make it hard to dump your perfect sentences, if they no longer serve the purpose you had when you wrote them.

    However, I accept that other people work differently from me.

    I think the danger comes when a writer can't finish anything. What they've just written is never perfect, so they just keep writing and re-writing the opening chapter, or whatever ...till they eventually lose interest and/or lose confidence and start doing something else instead. I think we have people in this condition here on the forum. Folks who never seem to get past the opening bits or get hung up on the planning stages. It's sad, because they so badly want to be writers and be successful, and they're willing to work at the craft. But the premature search for perfection can do them in.

    I have nothing against that primary polish method, if the writer DOES finish their stories, however. More power to their arms if that method works for them. There is no 'rule' about how you work, as long as you do.
     
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  4. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    It's very each to their own. Everyone has their own methods. I personally polish as I go because I'm one of those weird people who has to correct the placement of something on a desk, or fix the angle of a wall photo. If something feels off I have to fix it before I can move on, and I hate it, but that's just who I am.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I edit/revise as I go and leave the polishing for the end. Polishing to me is just catching those last typos, misspellings, etc, not actually changing the work itself. I hate the idea of wading through a bunch of crap and finding I have to change major portions because I screwed something up at the beginning. It's just wasted effort, IMO. But yeah, each writer does it their own way.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I keep reading this thread as Polish, the nationality.... :whistle:
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually polish per scene. Meaning I try to get a scene out before I monkey with it. If it's a paragraph though or some interior exposition I will sometimes polish that over and over until I feel it's right before carrying on with the scene. If the scene is particularly long then I break it up and polish when I take a writing break.

    I think it's whatever you're most comfortable with and whatever doesn't wreck your creative flow. Newbies to writing should definitely stick to getting things out first because sometimes they don't know how to correct things and they just sit there wasting a lot of time trying to determine what's wrong with something. Sometimes they make things worse.

    Someone with a bit more experience can usually tell what's off and handle correcting things easier and quicker.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing is writing, editing is editing. They don't go together for me because editing slows down writing - although if i'm having writer's block sometime's I'll edit something recent. Usually my editing passes follow my writing group submission schedule - which is about 7,000 words every six-weeks. I'm about three submissions ahead of them right now, so whatever they're getting has had enough time to cool that if I go back and edit it, I can do it fresh.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't read without tweaking, and I re-read the previous session's work at the start of every new session, so I tweak as a I go.

    And sometimes I'll 'discover' some new idea so big it's going to change the direction of the story - in those cases, I'll either stop and go back and change everything I need to in order to make the new idea fit right then, or I'll put a comment in the MS saying, for example "from here on, character X presented more sympathetically in preparation for event Y" and then I'll know when I go back to do edits later that I'll have to change character X's characterization up to that point.

    Speaking of - I use MS Word, but I think most word processors have some annotation/track changes/add notes feature. I never used any of that until I started working with outside editors, but now I love it. I add notes all over the place - "fix this, loser" is a common one. (and, yes, on occasion I have sent the MS off to someone else with at least one of those notes still intact. Luckily, most of my editors have a sense of humour). But back on topic - I think things like this can be a useful compromise for times when you don't want to lose momentum but also don't want to lose the idea for improvement.
     
  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Thanks for your input, people.

    I'm in two minds as to what I ought to be doing. I think I may proceed with writing each chapter, then giving it a quick once over, before moving on to the next.
     
  11. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I tried that once, and two hours later ... I was still revising my first page. ;)
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I polish as I go. I stare into space thinking of the best way to write a sentence, then I wind up rewriting it, revising it, editing, etc. I do this for every paragraph I work on until I'm happy with it. Then, the next day, I have to read over the previous day's work in order to recapture the tone I'm going for. When I do that, I make more revisions. My stuff gets revised to death. ;)

    As I've said, I'm a pantser, so when my first draft is completed, I have to go back and rewrite AGAIN. I wind up ditching piles of perfected paragraphs, and whole chapters, but that's okay by me. I kinda like it.

    I work this way because this is my art. My art is the sentence, the paragraph. The primary reason I write is so that, when I read my work aloud, it sounds good to me. The cadences have to be beautiful. I'm more of a musician than a writer, I think, and the music of the language is what keeps me interested and involved. This is why I like writers like James Joyce and Anthony Burgess - they care so much about the language, the style. Character is important; theme is important. Plot can go hang itself. For me, the meaning of the work - the value of the work - comes through in the style and the theme.
     
  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Weirdly, so do I. :/
     
  14. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Oh, how I totally understand what you mean. :supergrin:

    It's frustrating a lot of the time, though.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's no one size when it comes to writing. Everyone do whatever they think is best or work best for them.
    That said, personally I "vomit" the first draft and doing minor corrections of typos or such along the way. But nothing more substantial than that. On the other hand, with time and ms's passing by, my first drafts has become more and more "ready" when I finish them. The first ones were a hot mess, but now, aftersomething like 8 ms's they look pretty decent when I'm done. :)
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I can't "vomit" the first draft, because I can't stand looking at a whole novel's worth of pages that all need rewriting. It's too depressing! I revise as I go so that a lot of my first draft is salvageable. I have to like it if I'm to keep working on it.
     
  17. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Very much the 'polish as you go' type. I'm horrid at turning off my editor brain. Usually when I finish a part, I go back and reread immediately to catch what I can, then go over it again the next day before getting back to writing. And usually over the course of working on something I'll go back to the beginning and do big editing sweeps to make sure things have stayed consistent for the duration.
     
  18. A J Phillips
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    A J Phillips Active Member

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    I read what I have written over and over, then once more. Tweaking seems to be a bit of a hindrance to me because I think i spend so much time revising that sometimes I end up changing the entire path a scene takes. But to write an entire novel in rough draft format would drive me up a freaking wall! I would view it as dozens and dozens of pages of garbage, and probably be so frustrated i would scrap it entirely :/
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Since I have a short memory and attention span, I just type as I go, leaving markings and annotations to the side to remind myself what needs changing or looked at in the next draft.
     
  20. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I don't put too much effort into polishing during the first or second drafts. I'm still focusing on the plot and character development. So, it doesn't make sense to make a paragraph perfect only to remove it. I still make sure the basics are correct, though. I find it easier to read and focus on what should be changed.
     
  21. Topaztock
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    Topaztock Member

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    I usually polish a lot, but I'm trying something different with my first long-form text. I'm pushing forwards completely, and it's straight on to the next chapter. Currently, I'd say half of what I've written doesn't need extensive changing.

    One example is that I haven't introduced a MacGuffin yet, but the characters are still using it. I know where I'm putting it in, but I'm acting as if it's already been found until I reach 'The End'.

    It's working well for me actually, as I'm getting a lot more on the page.
     

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