Practicing Faith in Oneself as a Writer

I’m cutting while I’m adding new material to DeCo. That popular advice to refrain from rewriting until a draft is complete? Yeah, I’m completely ignoring that. Minor edits, major edits, re-structures. I’m doing it all.

My word count still hovers about 30,000 words; fortunately, I no longer care, because I’m making changes that bring the draft closer to a completed novel.

By moving and adding scenes, cutting passages that kill a scene, and moving notes into separate documents, I’m building a better foundation for the rest of the story. I’m strengthening connections, giving characters more time to develop relationships and ensuring that action does more than provide immediate conflict.

It feels good!

Except when a passage I love must go into the Cutting Room Floor folder (if electronic). I’ve learned to make minimal revisions to an unfinished scene; otherwise, I’m so attached that I don’t want to cut large, irrelevant passages.

Another lesson I’ve learned this week is that talking to a friend about my plot issues really does help. In the comments to my Break! post, Jennifer Neri suggested I try this.

That kind of divulgence scares me so much that my mind usually blanks when I attempt it, but I couldn’t keep from thinking about the advantages. A friend might see solutions that I’ve overlooked, support an approach I’m considering, provide useful feedback on my ideas, etc. In addition, I could prove I’m not a slave to old fears.

One of my friends hinted a while ago that she’d help me with my novel, and yesterday, I finally took her up on her vague offer. In a few minutes, she circumvented hours of me trying to determine the biggest error in a couple of my scenes. From now on, she’s my Magic Eight Ball for plotting.

Thank you, Jennifer, for encouraging me to take this approach!


16 thoughts on “Practicing Faith in Oneself as a Writer”

  1. I think brainstorming with someone is great, provided they understand what you’re writing. Often we’re just too close to see a problem. I’m happy you found your Magic Eight Ball.

    1. I’m happy, too. She encouraged me to explain just enough for her to understand the problem scenes. One of these days I’ll tell her about the entire novel.

  2. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can, and I’m glad that I actually helped.

    1. Also, you don’t have to worry about scaring me away with any oddness you brain can come up with. Trust me. I’ve had enough experience with warpage (my own & others’) that I doubt there’s anything you’d throw at me that would actually put me off being friends with you.

  3. Ann, I’ve been where you are, in the cutting during rewrite mode. I couldn’t get through this draft rewrite without cutting and adding new material (as frustrating as it’s been). Now, I think I’m finally to a point where I’m actually just moving things around and rewording sentences, adding details.

    I think you have to attack a draft in whatever way works!

    How exciting that you found someone to help work out the plot kinks, too! I start my novel workshop in two and a half weeks, and I can’t wait to finally show this work to someone else.

    I’m glad things are moving along for you!

    1. Thanks, Christi. It’s encouraging to know the cut/rewrite approach worked for someone roughly at my level.

      Congrats on completing your novel draft! What kind of workshop are you starting? Is it ongoing? Online or offline?

      1. The workshop is a novel workshop, where – I’m guessing – we read and critique each others’ novels. It’s about six weeks and meets once a week in person. It will be the first time I sit with other writers face to face and talk about the work. I can’t wait!

  4. I do it all–revise as I go, cut as I go, change as I go–and then when I get to the end, do it all over again. 🙂 It’s so true though, it’s hard to cut paragraphs I love.

    And friends are priceless. I feel lucky to have had friends through this whole process to talk with about plot and issues, etc.

    1. Welcome, Kasie! Like Christi said, it seems a writer must “attack a draft in whatever way works!” I’m now adding more than I’m revising or cutting, but whatever I need to do, I’ll do it.

      You are lucky, and so are your friends to be appreciated.

  5. Cutting is a difficult thing to do and although I edit and revise as I go I sometimes end up taking out large bits at a time because it just doesn’t seem to be necessary to the story. Sometimes it hurts, other times it doesn’t. You are fortunate to have a trusted friend to give you an objective opinion..

    1. The passages I don’t freak about cutting are often the experiments–the paragraphs or scenes that I wrote to test out an idea. I know some novelists write those in a separate document, but the more promising experiments go into my main draft first. It’s the pieces I hope will survive to the final draft that I’m loathe to remove.

  6. Oh, I am so happy to hear that! I know that, literally a few minutes, and voila, things move in a whole new way, or they just begin to find their way!

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