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  1. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 28, 2012
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    does editing damage your natural prose?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by 123456789, Mar 9, 2012.


    I've noticed two different mindsets when I am writing.

    The first I'll call flow writing(forgive my lack of proper terminology); this pertains to my actual work, not just writing drills. Basically I'll know what I want to write about and just write. The words come out like this. They just come out and there they are.

    In the other mindset, I'm forcing things. I struggle for the right words and sentence structures and it can take half an hour to get a paragraph out.

    I find that the first style produces better writing. The latter never receives praise from those I share my work with. Therefore I prefer the former.This is based on the philosophy that your true style comes out when you just 'let it go.'

    Let's call the first mindset A and the latter B to avoid confusion.

    Now, when I edit, sometimes it goes beyond changing a few words or correcting grammar. Rather I'm restructuring paragraphs, even pages.

    My question is this. For those of you who edit heavily, do you feel that doing so sacrifices your natural prose. Does it make your work look contrived or awkward? Or, which I'm hoping, does the flow and tone produced originally remain despite such adjustments? In other words, to what extent does A merge into B upon heavy editing? Perhaps I am oversimplifying things. Thanks for your responses.
  2. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 12, 2010
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    No heavy editing produces C :) Great flow from A with sophistication and better flow. At least in my case.
  3. Phoenix Hikari

    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    So far I've written 3 prologues for my current story, in one week. Draft A was much better than draft B which was worse than draft C. But all three of them are totally different. Draft A was better than B because it just flowed right out of my mind into the keyboard while B was more like I'm-going-to-make-this-an-amazing-prologue, and was an epic fail. C was much better than the former two because I managed to keep flow and grammar going in the same direction.

    For me, this prologue's three drafts are totally different (sentence structure and story-lines wise not events). The next few chapters should not see same heavy editing.

    Honestly, just do what you need to do. Do you feel like heavy editing? Go ahead, no? Then just twink few words here and there until the whole paragraph sounds more fluent. And please, whatever you do, don't over think or over analyze.
  4. Henning

    Henning Member

    Feb 22, 2012
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    page 272
    "Honestly, just do what you need to do. Do you feel like heavy editing? Go ahead, no? Then just twink few words here and there until the whole paragraph sounds more fluent. And please, whatever you do, don't over think or over analyze."

    Couldn't have said it better. What comes after you write as far as editing goes depends solely on your own judgement of what good writing is. There's no rule that says you have to rewrite 500 times and edit until you go crazy. Sometimes it comes out just right. Sometimes it doesn't. Be the judge and decide which is which.
  5. jo spumoni

    jo spumoni Active Member

    Jun 23, 2010
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    La Jolla, CA (and Mission Viejo, CA, during the su
    Well, I think it's best to remember the famed Hemingway quote: "Write drunk. Edit sober." This doesn't mean you should be boozing it up when you write, but just that you shouldn't think too hard about what you're saying the first time around. Get into a relaxed state and let everything out. BUT, the second part of the quotation is important, too: edit sober. You have to take a good, hard look at what you've written and be prepared to edit it. Ideally, your editing voice shouldn't ruin your creativity, but you shouldn't be so taken with what you produce in that "drunk" state (which usually makes you feel absolutely wonderful, like you might be the greatest writer in the world) that you never edit out the problems with it.

    Of course, this is just what works for me, and I can't say I've been terribly successful. There don't seem to be almost any constants in writing fiction. Even grammar varies.
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    I find that the stuff I write straight off the cuff, as it were, comes out reading clumsy (rather like this sentence). I lack the ability to write what I consider good prose unless I work it over a bit - I suppose I edit moderately heavily as I go. I'm keenly aware that the rhythm of prose can affect the mood of the story, even the paragraph, and I'm also aware that a startling but well-placed image can wake the reader up.

    So you could call me one of those writers who over-think and over-analyze. Frankly, I'm proud to be in that camp. I wouldn't recognize my own voice on the page if I didn't rework it quite a bit, and I like having a distinctive voice.
  7. Rapscallion

    Rapscallion Active Member

    Feb 13, 2012
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    South Africa
    I think over-editing can damage what you originally had in writing. Editing is a skill too. You need to learn to recognize when you are editing too heavily.
    Ideally a light edit should improve the writing (grammar, spelling) and help the flow too.
    1 person likes this.
  8. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    Says it all for me.
  9. Tesoro

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 3, 2011
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    A place with no future
    No, I don't think editing ruins anything, rather polishing it to perfection. The flow-writing isn't always perfect just because 'it comes naturally' and often (not to say always) it needs a little help to read as wonderful as it sounded in your head when you wrote it. I have rewritten entire stories from scratch, with new words, and the result is always better, at least in my case. It does happen that the flow writing produces pearls that I definitely want to keep, expressions and thoughts, but they usually need a little help to make them shine too.
  10. Tashanel

    Tashanel Member

    Feb 26, 2012
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    Surabaya, Indonesia
    ehmm... For me, there are two things that mostly edit. Grammar and consistency (how the story told). Those two you can lessen by if you are in mindset B. For me (again), if you are like in mindset A, type everything cross your mind (even you are know what to do) you will more often get grammatical error and inconsistency. I have a project that work with mindset A:

    I have a journal that so called dream journal. In that journal, i know what to do (just documented my dream actually). But in other hand, i must race with my memories (or you will miss a chance to catch it, because it goes so fast. Fading in your memory). What I'm gonna to do just remember everything, how the story goes till the end. Just like you said, The words come out like this. They just come out and there they are. When i read it, of course i understand and know there's so many Grammatical error and inconsistency (even sometimes the events are misplaced each other). But when other people read it, they doesn't get it at all. and know I'm working on heavy editing for this project.

    I would rather say, no. Heavy editing will not damage any writing. It will not sound awkward if you are not try other possibilities storyline (If you already really know where your storyline goes, why you would change the line of the storyline). For me, changing the storyline was not part of editing and yet that same as changing your story. The consistency (things that same from the beginning till end) is the most important work on writing. So it would better, if you are really known what your story and keep consistent. and ye shall be free from fear if it look contrived or awkward writing.
  11. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    jo and rapscallion offer the most valid overview of writing/editing and the best advice... i strongly recommend following it...
  12. marcuslam

    marcuslam Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2012
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    In my first drafts, everything is a mess. After I edit, indeed, I often find the writing to be a little mechanical. That's why I give it that one last read through to ensure everything flows well. Stay natural and you're going to do fine!

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