Ask the Authors: Tuesday
Do you edit as you go or are you of the “just get it down” school of thought?
I’ve tried to get the first draft down fast, quick and dirty. I know that’s what you’re supposed to do. But I can’t. What if I were to die before getting a chance to polish the scene? People would discover what a horrible writer I am. No, I have to assume the worst, that I may not wake up tomorrow morning and ensure that those who find yesterday’s pages won’t be traumatized. — Jack Cavanaugh (who really isn’t unstable, but you get the point)
It's gotta be just get it down. If I let the editor come out to play while I was writing, I'd go nuts! Well...more nuts than I am at present. Karen B.
I claim the distinction of being the slowest writer in Christendom (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). I can’t “just get it down” because it takes me so long to get it together in the first place. The process for me goes something like: think, think, think….write….edit, edit….think, think, think….write…edit, edit…. - Ann Tatlock
I write a day's worth, then before I write the next day, I review what I wrote the day before. -- Rene Gutteridge
I do a lot of editing as I go. I'm not a "first draft" writer. I write in "chunks," writing two or three chapters, doing light editing as I go, then going back and doing more editing on that group of chapters before moving on. Even after the story is told, I revise in sections before going through the entire manuscript again. And again. -BJ Hoff
I feel awful about this when I’m at writing conferences and people talk about the fifth or sixth draft and how not one word of their first draft ever survives – but an awful lot of what I publish is my first-draft work. Maybe 60% of the book comes out the way it first went into the word processor. But there’s a reason for this. I don’t write until I’m ready to write, and by this I mean that if I am forcing words, I realize that a scene has not yet gelled in my subconscious. “Getting it down” produces unusable manuscript for me. So I do something else (tend to yard-work, take a ride on the Harley) until my scene has gelled in my head. And then, when I do write, I immediately go back over the scene and tidy it. Most of my previous revision has been in the area of fixing plotlines, so I have (reluctantly) gone to creating a scene-by-scene treatment of the entire novel, getting the novel in good shape at that stage, and then writing the first draft from that. That’s what works for me, and if I work in this manner, I can also write rather swiftly (probably because the voice in my head can be heard more clearly). Your mileage, of course, may vary. – Tom Morrisey
Unfortunately, I have a horrible habit of editing as I go, and it's so hard to write that way! How I would love to just get the story down in a very short time, then go back over it again and again to polish and shape. Maybe someday I'll be able to develop that ability. --Hannah Alexander
I edit as I go. I used to write faster and do more editing in the revision stage, but over the last decade I’ve found myself slowing down and doing more editing during the first draft. — Robin Lee Hatcher
I'm in the "just get it down" camp. I write in layers, and I write short in first drafts, and enlarge as I go . . . because I'm still discovering all the story's secrets. Four or five drafts is typical for me. --Angela Hunt
I use sort of a leapfrog method, reading yesterday’s pages before I start today’s first-drafting. Then, at about one-third and two-thirds of the way through, I do complete read-throughs of the manuscript, revising again as I go. -Deborah Raney
I edit a bit, but not obsessively. Just usually read over the previous day's work and then move on from there. lisa samson