1. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    This Is Why You Wait

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chiv, Jan 31, 2015.

    A word of advice to anyone who has recently finished a manuscript (especially if it's your first) or is approaching the end of one.

    A few months ago I finished the first draft of my first 'complete' book, "A Brother's Curse". It came off extremely short, at barely 30k. I nonetheless, in my naivety, thought it to be almost done. I could think of nothing more to add to the story, and was content with what I had written. I edited it twice, and could still think of nothing. Hence, I branded it a novella and planned to write two more novellas to go with it.
    I then decided to take a break from the manuscript, although I had sent it out to a few beta readers. Having a break was one of the best choices I have ever made. While I was working on another project over the following month, I began to think of small things I could add to my first book.
    Then, last week it hit me. After 10 weeks of hiatus from my manuscript, I finally realised what was wrong. My novella is a sandwich of just bread and butter. It's got no filling. No salad, no meat. Just a start and an end. Realising what I did wrong, and having some time to create a subplot for the middle, I have now planned for another ten chapters. This will at least double the book's length, making it a full, decent sized novel, while also helping build up to make the ending even more heart wrenching.

    So if you take anything from that, let it be to leave your manuscript alone for a month or so, in order to truly see its flaws. Because it could just be a few gems you need to polish up, or you could have a huge diamond a little further down, that just requires a bit (or a lot) more digging to get to.
     
  2. CedricMiddorick
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    CedricMiddorick Member

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    Exactly. An artist who's been staring at his painting for months on end will no longer be able to see the flaws. It's only when he takes a step back, busies himself elsewhere and returns some time later that he realises how crap it is.
     
  3. Lilith_Duat
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    Lilith_Duat Member

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    This is a big paranoia of mine. What if I put something out into the world half-formed?

    In 2011 I co-wrote something that would be an extremely hard sell. We basically wrote it just for us. The other day I made an off-hand comment about it, my co-author ran with it and now we're reworking the entire thing. Now we both feel we actually have a fair shake with this sordid tale. But what if, with the next story, I don't get the earth-shattering idea until it's far too late?
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am at the same point actually. A story of mine(25k) has all the core concepts. Looking at it I think I need a bit more filler. Not sure where to add it. Hoping beta readers(once I get some) will be able to comment on what parts should gain filler.

    That and I kind of suck at writing. So needs more revisions. lol
     
  5. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Writing can't be rushed. When something is right, you can feel it. When something is done, you feel it.
     
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  6. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that if your intention is to write a 90k novel to send to publishers, then you need to plot your work to be 90k novel. If this is not your intention then it doesn't matter how long it is.
     
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  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thinking of anything in a book as "filler" is dangerous and unproductive. It tempts the writer to think that some parts of the book matter than others. A good story should be tightly woven and designed with a purpose that moves the story on. Simply adding stuff to make bulk usually harms the book more than it helps.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another example of 'writing wisdom' that might be true for you, but certainly isn't universal.

    I don't have this feeling of completion with any of my work.
     
  9. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    Stephen King describes a process similar to this in his book On Writing. He advocates setting a complete manuscript aside for six months or so, then coming back to read it with a red pen in hand. Once that amount of time has passed, he says, you will have forgotten much of the process of writing those words, and so will hopefully be able to read them with a clear mind and fresh eyes.
     
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  10. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    A writer doesn't wait to improve, he/she moves onto another project before he/she decides to go back and change things.
     
  11. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    Oh, I did. I went and wrote another 30k for a different story (which was my NaNoWriMo project) and kept going with that for a while longer. Going back to A Brother's Curse is my break time from the other project, and vice versa.

    Well, it's not really filler, so much. What I am doing is spending more time developing the characters and their friendship, before making them become enemies. It just happens to be done through a sub plot. This is something that I just wrote as I went along, with no planning at the start. But I've been able to step back and see what it is missing, which is the character development in the middle.
     
  12. Gladiatrix
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    Gladiatrix Member

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    Thank for that, I think this is good advice. I often write a bit and then have a break from my stories before continuing.
     
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  13. BookmarkUnicorn
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    BookmarkUnicorn New Member

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    This works well if what you already have a solid 30k but I always wonder about if you have to stay on the short side if such a story can be saved. I guess a short story requires a certain tightening of plot?
     
  14. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Seems like a good idea to let things ferment from time to time...
     

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