Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Slow fires mak sweet meat

Well, come on, what does that old Scottish adage mean?

Slow fires mak sweet meat- Take your time to achieve perfection

For all of the authors out there currently doing NANoWriMo the above is not the adage for them. What they don't have time for is achieving perfection. If you're not doing NaNoWriMo then perhaps the saying is perfect for you. It is certainly perfect for me, at present, but I don't plan to spend a whole month on revisions...Oh no. It won't take more than a couple of days, I said to myself... about two weeks ago. Oh dear....

In the words of the NaNoWriMo website they explain why you should join up for the event:
' The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To give yourself permission to write without obsessing over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To stop being one of those people who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” and become one of those people who can say, “Oh, a novel? It’s such a funny story–I’ve written three.” http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/about/hownanoworks

But...if you're not scribbling away furiously for the NaNoWriMo this month maybe you're doing the same as me? I'm doing the opposite to scribbling furiously since I'm too good at that in the first instance. Now my revisions have to include cutting down the word count by at least half the original to make sure I get in enough action, at the right times, and complete close to the word count needed for a submission. Anything new here? Does it ring bells?

Why am I obsessing over this particular WIP (work in progess)
I constantly ask myself? The simple answer is that I really want to get it to the best ever possible form...and have somebody publish it!

Revise, revise and revise again-yep! Best advice I have ever been given because, for me, when I reread a scene or chapter, word for word, phrase for phrase, I can always find something to change-and the strange thing is I always think the newest version is the BEST. Maybe I should just finally STOP, or better still-stop obsessing-and join up for NaNoWriMo next November 2012!

What about you? How are you with the editing process? Share your techniques, and tell us all your secrets!



  1. Nancy, your post reminds me of a quote I once read somewhere. "No novel is ever complete, the author just finally gives up." This is so true of my writing style. I revise and revise and revise again until I'm so sick of the story I can hardly stand to read another page. Still not done, but I get to a place where I throw my hands in the air and shout, "Uncle!" I wish, wish, wish I could've done NaNo this year. Alas, time does not permit it for me.

  2. Thanks for popping in AJ. Good to know I'm not alone regarding the 'I'm sick, sick....'

  3. I don't know about 'all my secrets' but for me revisions are not fun. I love the initial writing process, the creation, the dreaming. Then it's time to flesh it out- I love this part that brings my characters and scenes to life. I usually go through at least three times before I deem it 'finished' enough to share with my cps. Now there have been times I will send them a once edited chapter for feedback on the over all story, but not for critiques usually. Those are for nothing more than opinions on whether I need to push forward or scrap the whole thing and begin on something else.

    Nano? haha I always seem to start a new project I can't put off for a month about a month before Nano time. I tell myself each year I miss Nano that "next year I will wait to start that new project until Nano and use it to write that new idea down". Nope, five years and it hasn't happened yet.
    I did Nano my first year after I got serious about writing. I had just spent a year writing and had submitted my first ms two months before I ever heard of Nano. So I joined and loved it. I'm still babying that Nano story along even. I will finish it and I will even submit that story one day. But it was a venture outside of my natural genre so it's taking a little time and research. It is currently around 70K I believe and almost to the end of the first draft. Of course, that's what makes Nano so difficult for a perfectionist writer like myself. I edit automatically as I go. My internal editor off switch is broken. And I have a thing about editing previous chapters before I begin new each day...every day. When I wrote that story during 2005 Nano I cleared about 30K all month. Not the 50K required, but I wrote every day for a month, 1600+ words a day. Like I said, some of those words were in edits... :)

  4. Wow! thanks for your info. Calisa. Makes me really think of doing NaNo next year! good of you to pop in. Slainthe!

  5. "I'm doing the opposite to scribbling furiously since I'm too good at that in the first instance." I'm still chuckling over that, Nancy.

    I AM doing NaNo this year, for the first time, but I'm not the kind of person who can read 'this info isn't for you' and then not check it out immediately. My sibs and I (all eight of us) have a common saying ~ "I didn't want to miss anything!" So, here I am, on a break from NaNo and so far I can't see why everyone loves it. I'm banging my head against the wall, because like you, Calisa, I normally start my writing day by editing yesterday's words. And like you, AJ, I revise like a maniac until I simply can't make myself read that frigging story one more time.
    As for your question, Nancy, when the characters and story I loved several versions ago suddenly has me yawning while I read, I figure it's finished.

  6. This year is my third NaNo. For the first time, I'd already completed heavy background research and had the story in my head for a few years before I actually committed to committing it to paper (or PC). I didn't complete NaNo the second time, and likely won't this time, but it helps to have that outward pressure to keep me in the constant mindset of my story. Again, I've done lots of research, and have had this story in my head for the past year, so it's time to unleash it. I don't try to silence the editor in my head while I write, but I do try to let go of the smaller details that I know I'll fix later during revisions. Many many rounds of revisions, after which the story will go to my crit partners.
    I don't think the goal of NaNo is to write in a frenzy just to attain the word count. It certainly isn't for me. It does provide another network of writers for support in a common goal.
    For about a month prior to Nov. 1, most writers prep for NaNo - outlines, research, getting to know their characters so that when the time comes, they'll be able to get inside the h/h's heads, and have a good idea, if not a structured plot, for the story's start, middle and end.
    If you're not familiar with Storyfix.com, you should check it out - the site had excellent advice and prompts for preparing.
    Likewise, most NaNo'ers know enough not to sub their stories until after it's gone through revisions. There's a name for the flood of submissions that hit editors the month after NaNo - a good reason *not* to submit during December so the editor won't think it's hot off the NaNo express, lol.


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