Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Guest Author Corinne Duyvis: Fast Drafting, Fast Editing
I'd like to welcome Corinne Duyvis to the blog today to chat with us about something I'd been trying to do more of: write first drafts faster.
Corinne is an author of SF/F young adult novels--light, dark, and anywhere in-between. In theory, she's also a portrait artist, but in practice she spends her free time nerding out over superheroes and TV series. Her cat makes her happy, kyriarchy makes her grouchy, and hairbrushes make her very confused. She lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
She's a graduate of Clarion West 2011 and has short stories published in Strange Horizons and Dagan Books' upcoming FISH anthology. She's currently between agents. Find her at her website, blog, or Twitter.
Take it away Corinne...
Just like there's a split between plotters and pantsers, there's a split between authors who love drafting and those who love editing.
I count myself as one of the former: I live for drafting. There's no pressure for your work to be perfect, you finally get to give shape to all those characters and scenes that have been floating around your mind, and it's full of surprises.
Most of all, I love how fast it can go. I can squeeze out a draft in anywhere from ten to thirty days.
My trick: I spend forever brainstorming my novels in advance. By the time I start writing a book, I know all the major plot points and every detail of the ending. When surprises come up, I'll just re-brainstorm my outline and pick up where I left off.
Every waking moment, I'm thinking about how the next scene will go, how my character will feel, how this event will lead into the next scene and the one after that. When I finally sit down at the computer, the words flow, eager to take shape.
It doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me, and I love it.
The downside is that editing is painful. That's the part where I actually have to pay attention, and for someone with zero attention span like yours truly, that's tough. Editing is slo-o-ow. I lose focus. I lose motivation. There's no way to track my daily progress, no editing high to take advantage of. For a long time, I edited very, very slowly. I'd skip back and forth in the book, floundering, tweaking parts here, scrapping parts there, and feeling monumentally dissatisfied at how much I had left to do.
A lightbulb finally went off about a year and a half ago. So here's my new trick: I approach editing the exact same way as I approach drafting.
(I am a little slow at times.)
I brainstorm, I outline, and after a few weeks of intensive note-taking, I get down to business without worrying about perfection. Instead, I focus on getting things done. If I outline my exact changes in advance, there's no reason for a rewritten scene to take longer to write than a brand-new scene would. If I know exactly what to emphasize in a scene, it doesn't take more than one or two read-throughs of the scene to squeak that in.
This way, I'll work down my checklist list one edit at a time. Big rewrites first. Smaller edits later.
At this point, the MS is a mess--but it's a mess with all the puzzle pieces in the right place. The shape is there. The lines between the pieces still need to be smoothed over; subtler aspects of characterization and world-building need to be weaved in.
That's the part that can't be rushed. Thankfully, at that point, I'm so close to the end that it's hard to get too discouraged. I'll have a read-through--involving a lot of skipping back and forth--to fix anything that jars, then another read on paper for a thorough line-edit.
I still don't love editing.
But with this approach, I don't dread it anywhere near as much, either.