Since this is the 94th post on our Fab Fiction Forge Indy blog, I thought it would be grand to list 94 of my thoughts and opinions on the writing process. Hardly! But one of the first on that list (behind research and time management and reading the pros) is something that I have a difficult time doing, and that’s being concise, curt…al dente (thanks, Thesaurus!).
While I’m a stickler on keeping my blog posts short and concise (no need to verify that!), yet another Achilles' heel of mine (I have five feet) is knowing there's a blank page below where I'm writing and it's just waiting for me to write it up. Let's just say that I have a difficult time knowing when I should stop or when I have wrought too much detail, or when I should try light yogurt instead (or, as Heather puts it: when to add water to the Campbell’s® soup). Yes, Heather thinks I'm dense.
Revision is where all my torment resides (ham the hand-to-forehead gesture).
Workshopping the stories help enormously, but it’s not fair to the reviewers if I don’t try to clean up and snip out extraneous stuff such as unnecessary dialogue, flow-stopping roadblocks, and artistic or philosophical layers so deep that no one understands the correlations or gets that it’s filled with rich custard. My erratic submission behavior is partly due to making custard (constant stirring is key), but mostly due to revising and prepping a piece that has yet to be reviewed. I’m a worrier by nature, and I truly panic at the thought of wasting someone’s time or insulting their intelligence by some dribble I have written. Yes, I've shared this before. I hate it when I research a subject for weeks and months only to find that the information is wrong or not completely accurate. Even now just writing this, my left and right hemispheres are wringing in despair at the thought. What an ugly visual. I need a cup of Chamomile.
What helps me other than herbal teas? Having a set number of pages to go by and a set font size (and double space) helps me maintain a good length and helps with some revision. This is a new approach for me (thanks David!). But, it’s like Step 1 in a 94-step protocol. I spend most of my time refining and devolving what I have already written. It's a bloody mess! I try to kill my darlings, and my darlings try to kill me. I sip my tea, recover well enough and bury their bodies in unmarked graves, and then I rake on.
Trusting my instincts helps to streamlining the process (and it is a process). THAT, and some other facts (Ah! A List):
> Trust that the reader will get it.
> Accept that some historical sources may get things wrong.
> Accept that changing a scene or a character (or plot) based on historical inaccuracies is a normal process to revision.
> Trust that other writers in the group DO know more about topics, historical or otherwise, and look forward to hearing their viewpoint and experiences.
> Accept that there are many choices now available from Cool Ranch to Flamas, but the best flavor is still Original Doritos®.
The last one is in regards to my tendency of writing a bit too experimentally (pulls collar from throat). It's not too unlike my actual career as a scientist. Experimenting is great when developing an assay, but the assay is not an assay unless it can be validated to work. That's not to say all assays can't have some unusual components in its makeup. I'm just saying Flamas-Doritos® can only go so far until it makes one long for something more palatable. Hard.Not.To.Play.With.My.Art.
If I had more space in this post, then I would share some post-draft/pre-reviewed revision examples. Yet, knowing how I like to keep my posts succinct and how I have 88 more writing tips to list, I will end it here and continue the list over the next 14.67 posts.
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