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  1. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    To edit now or later?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Stormsong07, Feb 27, 2017.

    OK guys. I'm about 19K words into my YA fantasy novel. Goal is for 60-70K when all is said and done, but of course, the story will decide the specifics.
    I sent the first few chapters to my sister for her initial review, and she sent me back some really great suggestions and critiques. Problem is...do I re-work the beginning now, because it could change some of what happens later, or do I just write on the path I'm on, finish it up, and then go back and make the changes?
    And do I incorporate some of the planned changes into the future writing? (OK, let me clarify that...)
    For example: one of the changes I intend to make is that MC's dad has a huge secret. So, do I continue writing, incorporating that new subplot as I go, or do you think that will lead to continuity issues if I don't make that edit to the beginning now?
    Ack. This is getting confusing. TLDR: Do you edit as you go or do you write it all and fix it later?
     
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  2. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I just carry on. I'm simply thinking of efficiency. I don't really want to bother editing and tweaking scenes that will just get cut anyway in the edit. Hence, I might say it's best to write the whole draft and you can decide then what needs binning and what stays without too much wasted effort because you now have a good idea what the finished story is likely to look like.

    For example, I rewrote all the first act for one of my main characters because the story evolved in the other two acts to something much better that made the first act entirely redundant. I can't imagine how much time I would have wasted editing that when I'd end up binning it anyway. Seems rather pointless! So, unless you are a very meticulous person that has the entire plot planned out from start to finish and know exactly what is happening scene by scene, my advice would be to leave it, and carry on. You don't know what else will change.

    Just incorporate those changes you have thought of now, and make the continuity changes later, but make sure you have good notes to keep track of that. I don't have any experience of editing, before rewriting, so perhaps there are others here that will tell you that that method is better. Perhaps that makes my 'advice' theoretical rather than practical, but that's how I see things.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I edit as I go because I hate going back and changing things.

    But there are equally valid reasons for waiting to edit.
     
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm constantly re-working my plots and characterization from the beginning of the writing process to end :)
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I made a rule a long time ago to try to limit my inflight editing to chapters or small chapter clusters. So long as I'm still in a chapter I'll fiddle and futz with it until it looks right. Then when I'm done I "lock" the chapter and don't go back. I made this rule after I derailed myself too many times by over thinking things instead of moving forward. Having said that I still screw it up all the time. Most of the time it ends up okay but there are notable cases when it's been disastrous -- where an intended tweak resulted in three months of fire fighting just to get back to where I was. It's different for everyone. Go with whatever works for you. You'll get a bunch of compelling arguments for either method. Even the masters are split fairly evenly on this.
     
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  6. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I don't do much editing. If it's an easy fix of a scene that's just bugging me and thus stifling my creativity, I'll go back and edit. I'm nearing the end of my first novel, and there's quite a bit I need to change earlier in the book that I didn't know I needed to change. You're likely to change a lot in your book later, so right now just focus on getting the bones of the story down. The fleshing out can come in later.

    That said, write pretending the changes were made. Otherwise you'll just have to rewrite the entire book.

    ETA: @Homer Potvin makes an excellent point. A lot of people much prefer to edit as they find issues. Try whatever method comes naturally to you, and if it seems to be a stumbling block, try another method. I tried a few different methods before I found one that works for me.
     
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  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I switch back and forth between editing at once or waiting. Neither works better, just depends what I feel like doing.

    I think newer writers should plough on, because loads will probably end up rewritten, but that's easier said than done.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    The OP doesn't appear to be 'stuck' in any way, so I'd say go back and make the changes she knows she wants to make while they're fresh in her mind. That's different from constantly rewriting each chapter to utter perfection before moving on—which works for some, but can become a huge stumbling block to progress for others. (And can also become a problem if it turns out later on that the perfect chapters need to be dumped after all.)

    However, @Stormsong07 has found some major story issues that she intends to change, so it's probably best to go back and insert those changes now—so she can move forward with the new scenario already in place. Anybody who has finished a complicated novel will know, if you start pulling plot threads after you're done, the whole thing can unravel.
     
  9. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    The only reason not to edit it is because some people feel editing during writing absolutely stifles their un-dependable creativity. If you're not like that there's no reason to not to fix it. But what if it happens again or several times over? Will you leave your story with several continuity errors under the rationale that you will fix them all later? Or will you end up confused?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
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  10. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I find that editing kills my creative bent: editing is self-critical, creating is unabashedly enthusiastic. Insert your new subplot as it fits, keep your sister's comments, and incorporate them on the first revision. Don't worry about continuity, your first rev will take care of that. The most important thing about that first draft is to reach the last sentence, all else is secondary. And don't even think about creating the perfect first draft, it ain't going to happen, none of us are that good. I finished mine in Oct 15, went through seven major revisions, each big enough to merit a different version number (As an engineer, I practice good configuration management!) Several smaller ones just got an alfanumeric suffix (6A, etc). Did not feel it was good enough to go to press until January 17.

    Example: about halfway through my first draft, I realized that I had introduced my FMC as way too self-confident and outgoing for someone who had been abused from a very young age. Made a mental note to fix, and corrected that on first pass through. Otherwise I would have been distracted from the finish, tying up multiple threads on which I was focused that had to come together smoothly, while I went back and reviewed and modified her character development for the preceding 300 pages, a relatively low level change.
     
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  11. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    You actually believe quality storytelling is secondary to reaching the last line?
     
  12. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Secondary in that it comes afterward ;)

    That writing style doesn't differ from "Start Writing – Start Editing – Finish Writing – Start Editing" (that's my writing style by the way) in that it's "Start Writing – Finish Writing" (there's a word for someone with that writing style, and the word is "bad writer" :D ) it differs in that it's "Start Writing – Finish Writing – Start Editing – Finish Editing"

    "Secondary" in this case does not refer to importance, "Secondary" in this case refers to chronology.
     
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  13. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Does it now.



    Seems to me early drafts that are bad tend to stay bad on further edits. If that wasn't the case, publishers would be alot less discerning on who they accept.
     
  14. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    No, it means my way of storytelling is different from yours, as yours is from mine.
     
  15. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    You don't get to use that now. You said: Don't worry about continuity, your first rev will take care of that. The most important thing about that first draft is to reach the last sentence, all else is secondary. You're giving someone else advice and stating someone else should adopt your way.

    You can't backtrack and say "it's my way" now. You're taking "your way" beyond just you, so it's merits as advice to others can now be challenged.
     
  16. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    You've never run into the "personal 'you' versus general 'you' " before? I got the distinct impression that he was talking exclusively to someone who hasn't tried his writing style yet, but who might benefit from it in a way that you and I wouldn't as just doesn't know it yet.
     
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  17. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Either way, as soon as you're giving advice either to a personal or a general "you", you can't then say it's just my way. By his own words, just finishing takes priority over every other metric of storytelling (including actually thinking about what you're doing). To which I ask him if he actually means that. Instead he replies with the self evident red herring"it's my way, yours is different".
     
  18. Alphonse Capone

    Alphonse Capone Active Member

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    Constantly going back and editing is the bane of my writing life. I'm far too anal and obssessive to make notes and go back later, would ruin my creative flow.

    If you aren't normally the sort of person who feels the need to keep going back and editing then I'd say go back just now and make the big changes you want while you've got the urge to.
     
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  19. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    That's just how people tend to talk when giving advice. We explain our way as if the asker is going to try it.

    I thought this made it pretty obvious Lew's explaining his technique. He never said it's the only way, just that it's his way.

    There's a huge difference between waiting to do big edits until the book's completed and not putting any thought into the story and writing. I've tried editing along the way, and it sucked out all my creative juices. Like Lew said, editing is self critical, and it's easy to notice other mistakes while we make those other edits. Learning how to say, "This is just the first draft; that edit can wait until later," literally saved my writing ability.
     
  20. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Depends on how long your WIP is.
    Sometimes it is better to edit as you go,
    and sometimes it is better to wait until the end.
    Just a matter of how much work you want to spend
    at the beginning or the end.

    I try to edit as I go, so as not to have to spend a month
    editing the whole damn thing. Though some like
    to edit so it all depends on you. :)
     
  21. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Mine was 240,000 words... and published now, so success. But I spent 18 months in the edit phase, and about 7 revisions. The biggest was to modify the character arc of my FMC who started out way too outgoing when I first introduced her, for where she was in her life... but I didn't know her when I first introduced her. She told me to tone it down. Another major character I realized was just like me. He was a professional officer, very competent, great negotiator, but he exited the story at the same place he entered it, no change at all. I had to add some conflict into his story. And then there was the chapter on Myos Hormos... when they arrived there, the weather was horrible, the accommodations terrible, and nothing much happened except a cockroach fell into the bath with them. That chapter needed work to give it a purpose.

    And if anyone thinks they can eliminate ALL the SPaG errors, all by themselves, good luck on that, you are better than I!
     
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  22. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I eliminated all of my SPaG errors by myself. Any you find in the book was put there on purpose. Honest and truly. :angle:
     
  23. ToDandy

    ToDandy Senior Member

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    This is a really interesting question and one I've been experimenting with over the last few years.

    I'm, for the most part, a binge writer. I usually sit down and do the bulk of my writing over a couple months then edit. This is the first time where I've been experimenting with editing as I go. Here are the benefits of each, as I've found them.

    EDITING LATER- great for people that have trouble finishing their novels because it helps keep momentum. Allows you to get one singular vision before going back to find weaknesses and issues to revise. Helps pump novels out quicker. Great for people that like to do full re-writes of their novels. A good match for people who do heavy outlining before writing. Can lead to a grueling and brutal editing process

    EDITING NOW- great for people that want to shape their novels as they go (discovery writers). The amount of editing work is about the same but by spreading it out, it feels less brutal- especially for those who dislike the polishing process. Helps for discovering new inventive narrative direction and character development. Can lead to works taking longer to write, momentum being lost, and general meandering.


    Both have huge benefits and some key disadvantages. I like doing both, but you'll just have to find what is a good fit for you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
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  24. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I've learnt from experience now that editing as you go is a lot easier. If you end up with 70-80k of words, and you have to start making changes, it's really difficult to keep track of what your changes are affecting. You may have relied on something you'd already written to set something up later, so then you have to start unpicking threads. Worse, you might not make the connection, and end up releasing a book where one whole element doesn't make sense because you didn't pick up on something you'd changed.
     
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