1. sanguine
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    sanguine New Member

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    Rapid Improvement

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sanguine, Jan 6, 2011.

    Improvement

    Hello, I'm new to this forum and decided to join because I have a general question about writing and no one in particular to ask. I am currently a sophomore in college (still 19 years old but almost 20), and I have quite a few ideas for novels that I would really like to write. As of now, I have developed my first novel quite thoroughly and actually wrote twelve chapters of it before getting stuck on certain details I had previously overlooked. Those details have been cleared up, but here's my big problem:

    Reading over the draft of my first twelve chapters, I have found that my prose has changed and improved substantially over the time I have spent writing those chapters, and because I am a perfectionist and like a sense of consistency in quality, I'm afraid of reworking or continuing my draft.

    I guess I'm wondering if there is a certain point in a writer's development when the quality of their work/prose becomes consistent? And should I wait a couple more years before attempting something as long as a novel because of how rapidly I have been improving?

    And just for a little extra information (if it helps you out at all), I've been keeping personal and creative journals since 2007 and have always written well in high school and college. And my improvements, as I have noticed, are primarily in the fluency and word choice (but mostly fluency).

    I appreciate any ideas! :D
     
  2. MsLee123
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    MsLee123 Member

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    Welcome to the forum! As you go along and start reading and responding to posts here you'll quickly realize there is no "appropriate" age to either begin or start writing. If you're a good writer, you're a good writer.

    I write novels as well and am in the publishing process. As a novelist I cringe at the idea of stopping a well thought out story, especially with 12 finished chapters! There's so much work and creativity involved that I'd hate for the work to cease. There is a good chance that the prose seems vastly different to you, but to others may be virtually unnoticeable. Now, if you're changing tenses left and right or changing the way you voice description and dialogue, then you may run into a problem. At this point I'd still advise finishing the story. Unfortunately you will learn quite quickly, especially when you have a few novels under your belt, that the editing process is tedious and can take almost as long as actually writing the story. Also, you yourself will always be your biggest critic.

    Keep writing!! Don't stop! Developing your creative voice takes time, countless hours, and many, many drafts. The first thing you whip out will never be the manuscript that hits the publishers desk. Best of luck! And remember, we're all here for you!
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't wait until your writing is improved before you write novels. It's a catch-22. If you wait til you're better, you won't write, and if you don't write, you don't get better.

    Simple, yet pain-in-the-rear solution: edit the first few chapters so the writing quality is up to par. :)
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I can't think of a single writer (or artist, or musician) whose style has stayed the same throughout their whole career, with the exception of formula writers like James Patterson (though even his style developed before he became a franchise instead of a writer). So no, I don't think you should wait until later to work on a novel; the quality may be exceeded by your next work, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write the first one. You have to start somewhere right?
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the others. Keep writing and edit those first chapters.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    This is why I like short stories. It's a great way to learn craft techniques and experiment with style and find one's 'voice' and imo most importantly learn how to design and complete story arcs. And, if one is lucky, you get a story that can be published somewhere which can start building a reputation (and all genres have opportunities to publish short stories).

    I'm not saying it's exactly the same writing a short story and novel, but everything learned writing short stories can help a novelist and many/most of the skills translate over directly. Many of my favorite novelists wrote short stories, and you can see the positive influences (particularly with tight language and solid sub-arcs to complement the over arching novel's arc).

    The other benefit, besides just starting to get one's name out there with shorts, is those short stories can still be from the same overall work. I know a guy who had a handful of stories published (5, I think, maybe 6) each in very nice journals (in terms of pay and prestige) and then tweaked them so they worked as chapters and published the novel. Double the bang for one's buck.

    I see a lot of people that don't 'want' to write short stories, though, but I don't understand why, exactly. The worst reasoning I've seen being that short stories are too 'hard' which imo is exactly why one should practice with them, heh.

    But yeah, don't discount using short stories to hone craft, especially when those stories can use characters, events and scenes from the bigger novel-length lore one has envisioned, so it doesn't even have to be 'extra' writing and can still build toward a completed novel.
     
  7. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    You'll always find that your writing style improves - it's a curve without limits.

    No novel, script, screenplay or anything else was ever written from beginning to end in one shot and if it was, I'm sure it's terrible. As your story and skills develop, it's only natural that you'll look back and find discrepancies in tone and flow, but don't worry about it: Right now you're just working on the first draft.

    Get the narrative sorted out first - beginning, middle and end - THEN go back and make the thing work. You ARE going to have to do some serious editing if the difference in writing style is significant, but this should be taken as a good sign because it means that you're getting that much better that much faster.

    Step 1: Rough (read: ROUGH) draft.
    Step 2: Edit
    Step 3: Repeat Step 2 a bajillion times, or however long it takes to get the thing right.
    Step 4: Obligatory South Park Reference
    Step 5: Profit!
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just finish the story and then tweak it. It's important to be able to finish it.
     
  9. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    I agree that you should finish this book. You've appeared to have put a great deal of time and heart into it - just finish it and see where it goes.

    I have written three (close to four) novels, and I have seen my writing improve over time. I think that is natural. We all improve with time, and all improve with practise. That doesn't mean that what you wrote previously isn't good though!

    I think you should finish and just go through the book once you're finished to polish and enhance anything you're not happy with.

    Good luck :)
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ... it's usually after several years of pretty constant writing... the rare 'greats' may manage it somewhat sooner, or even possess that quality from the get-go...

    ...not unless you want to... i'd say go ahead and finish the one you started, if only for the practice... when you get to the end, you can either work on making the writing quality/style consistent as you revise/edit, or put it aside till later and start a new one, having fairly well established your latest 'voice' by then...
     
  11. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    You're in college, so you're familiar with the concept of investing for a future career. Right now, you're investing money and time in your classes. In those classes, you take time to do projects that will not pay off, but are for practice. Likewise, college clubs and internships within your chosen industry. Hopefully you do all because you find them interesting, but you also know that they are practice to help you get better.

    So, think of the story you are working on right now are "Novel Writing 101". It may take till "Novel Writing 501" before you actually get published, but in order to get good enough to take 501, you need to complete 101, 201 etc. That, or take the equivalent "Short Story 101 & 102" etc, or other form of writing.

    -Frank
     

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