1. Rence

    Rence Member

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    I read my first act and it's killed my motivation.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rence, Jan 2, 2020.

    Looking for some advice on how to proceed please.

    After extensive plotting, I wrote my first act of a crime thriller, just over 25k words. Overall, I really enjoyed the process.

    I found I would come up with ideas at work and look forward to getting home to write. I tried sticking to word targets and found 50% of the time I could get into the zone and the other 50% was a bit forced, but I was still fairly confident the writing was okay.

    So, before i pushed on, I converted the doc into an epub and started to read, hoping to get a idea if I can actually do this. The conclusion is a distinctly unhelpful, maybe. The parts where I was in "the zone" read pretty well and I hope are engaging. The rest is a bit meh. The act would benefit from a rewrite, but as much as I still want to complete the book, the motivation has gone and I'm having thoughts of scrapping the project.

    I'm sure many have been here before, what do I do guys?
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Its not a great idea to edit as you go along - i'd suggest you write the whole thing then come back and rewrite the bits than need it (some of which will have evolved as you develop the rest of the plot anyway)
     
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  3. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    You don't go back and read. You just write. Your first draft, especially if you are not an accomplished author, is going to suck. There's little you can do about it. You just have to finish the first draft. You don't have a book until you do. It's just words on a page. You have to be committed to getting it done, no matter what. Otherwise, you're not really an author.
     
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  4. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Active Member

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    As Moose and Cephus said, you have to push through it and accept the fact that you wont like it to begin with.

    Someone once put it like "You hear music, can hum a tune, so you naturally think you read stuff and can suddenly write a novel. It's not being nasty, it's just a natural human thought."

    It doesn't work that way 99.99% of the time for any of us. It's a practice thing.

    The cycle goes Write - hate parts of what you've written, re-write. Write again, hoping you learned from what made you hate the bits before, then hate parts of the new stuff you've done, rewrite. So on and So on.

    I see writing these days as more akin to a Sculptor. You do things bit by bit, not taking off too much, so that you can, eventually, and with a lot of practice, get the eventual shape you want in the end.
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It was Hemingway who said that 'the first draft of anything was shit' - he wasn't wrong
     
  6. Rence

    Rence Member

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    Thank you guys. That's a unanimous nope for editing on the go then! I shall persevere.
     
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  7. The Multiverse

    The Multiverse Member

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    If your modivation is lacking perhaps putting the story to the side for now would be ideal. Give yourself a chance to refuel mentally and come back to it with fresh eyes. Its quite possible that you'll experience something that will rekindle your imagination towards the story.
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I disagree. I always edit as I go. I find it far less motivating to know I have 80k of trash to edit than to think I have only a scene of 5k to edit.

    The trick is simply: don't expect perfection, know everything will be rewritten anyway, and edit only ONE scene prior. That's the rule for myself. Of course if I know exactly what I needed to add back in Chapter 3, I'd do it even if I was on Chapter 10. But as a rule of thumb, I only edit the one scene I'd previously written and then I move on. This way, everything you've got is of decent quality - it's ready to be read.

    After you get to a certain stage in your writing skill, the truth is, the editing isn't really for the writing quality. Editing is for story structure and pacing and general plot. Editing is pretty much for: now you know the shape of the story, you can craft it to showcase that shape, dig the sculpture out of the stone.

    What matters is you've been consistent. Keep it up. There's a reason why editing and rewrite are always part of the process. Now I dislike Dan Brown's writing immensely but he did say something I rather like, which was: Dare to suck. :D Apparently it's a little gem he learnt from Aerosmith? There's something to it, either way. Having rubbish to edit is better than having nothing at all. The one polishing a diamond in the rough still has a diamond, while the other with nothing to polish at all has empty hands. You just gotta believe what you're polishing is indeed a diamond.

    Sure, maybe it's rubbish. But it's my rubbish. It's mine. And I'll work at it till it shines because it's mine. Be proud of it, even if it doesn't seem like much.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would say if you're worried about the writing itself (ie choice of words, etc) I'd do what the others are suggesting ...just keep going. Editing for form comes later on, and will go through many stages.

    If you have run out of story IDEAS, however, that's another thing. Or if you no longer believe in the story itself, because the characters don't engage you, or the plot no longer makes sense. If this is the motivation killer you mean, I reckon you need to step back from the story and let it cook a bit longer in your head—till what's holding you back suddenly resolves itself. It will! Especially if you are willing to play around with elements of the story so far—and since you're thinking, not writing, there's no time or words wasted.

    Maybe change a setting, or throw a new character into the mix, or or change an existing relationship to something different from your original plan. What happens if a character's best friend (or worst enemy) is his actual brother instead? Or a father becomes a stepfather, or a teacher becomes a boss, etc. See if these kinds of changes in thinking revitalise your story. Yeah, they'll change the plot a bit, but if it's not working now, why not play with a few changes?

    Doggedly pushing ahead, writing something you no longer believe in but don't know why, doesn't really seem the best way forward.

    The idea that you must write every day if you want to be a writer is the biggest bit of bad advice I've come across. That may work if procrastination is your problem, or if you always find solutions WHILE writing, or if you have a deadline you must meet. But if none of these applies to you, don't be afraid to stop writing and start re-thinking and re-envisioning instead. If you want the situation to change, you need to change your approach, I reckon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
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  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I can buy the 'edit only the last chapter you wrote.' As long as you don't get hung up attempting to achieve perfection, and never move on. That, unfortunately, happens to lots of new writers.

    Get it into decent shape ...catch SPAG errors, maybe tinker with a few word choices, etc. But then move on. Don't let yourself get stalled because it isn't perfect yet.

    If you're anything like me, you edit each chapter to where it feels perfect for now, move on ...and then when it's all over and you've reached the end, you go ...GEEZ! And go back to editing again! :) But, as you say, you have created the rough diamond. It's a great feeling.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
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  11. More

    More Active Member

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    I think the question has been answered. But.... I believe it is a common misunderstanding with beginners, like me, that editing is a some kind of chore that is needed to be done after writing your story . For most writer the story is created by the editing and the first draft is no-more than rough starting point .
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think editing is fun, actually. That's when you deal with all the niggles and make them better. It's great to read a piece you've edited and realise it's tons better than the original. The thing is, you KNOW you've written the whole story. That's such a good feeling.
     
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    I like that idea. It's the way many filmmakers work as well—the film is shaped in editing and reams of unused scenes and alternate takes lay on the cutting room floor to be gathered up into behind-the-scenes featurettes for the DVD.
     
  14. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I completely disagree with @big soft moose about never editing on the go – I constant edit/revise my first drafts from beginning to end :D – but I completely agree with the Hemingway quote ;)

    The first draft is about getting a first draft finished, and the second draft is about cleaning up the steaming pile of garbage :cool:

    Even if you edit on the go the way I do, it won't be enough to make a good first draft :p

    That's what the second draft is for :)
     
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  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I should have perhaps clarified that I meant for the OP ... as new writer who is unsure of their work, who loses their motivation when they edit, it is a bad idea to feel they have to edit as you go.

    For experienced writers like you or I, just do whatever you've learnt works for you
     
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  16. More

    More Active Member

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    I would agree with Moose , as a general rule for beginners , push to the end on the first draft , is good advise . However , I think it is so interesting how different writers work . P K Dick would write a book in a single siting, up-to eighteen hours of continuous work . P J Woodhouse would spend maybe years working on a new plot . He would build up his ideas in notes , hundreds of pages of them . When he was happy , he would type his novel in a week . He also work on more than one thing at time .
     
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  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Fair point ;)
     

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