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Author Topic: Writing with Errors
TMan1969
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I remember reading a Stephen King article he posted in a Writers Market Book, in it he said write out the whole story from start to finish. Don't stop to correct grammar, spelling or anything - agree/disagree?
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Marva
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I don't disagree in theory, but I can't help myself. I just automatically backup to fix typos. As for revising, I'd definitely agree.

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Beth
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I'll fix typos, but usually if you get hung up on trying to make the first paragraph perfect, I don't get past that first paragraph. Get the story down first; make it not suck later.
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rcorporon
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I'd have to agree. I fix typo's, but that's just the way I work. I don't worry too much about poor grammar in my first draft. Just get it down and worry about the finer details later.
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trousercuit
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My first paragraph has to be some reasonable approximation of perfection so I can tell whether it's worth pursuing the story.
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wbriggs
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I can't comment. I don't make errrors.
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Aust Alien
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I wish to be W Briggs. :-) Great discussion, but do these comments apply to novel length? Some authors say they get it all down then work it thru, others say get the beginning right first.... ?

I've started maybe 10 novels that didn't get past chapter 4 (normally stop at 2) because of rewriting/tampering etc killing the passion, but never had the discipline to write to the end then worry about mistakes. Maybe I'll try that.


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TMan1969
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This is where all my errors happen - grammatical, voice, presentation and I agree, correcting while you type/write drains the passion...if not your energy.
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'Graff
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I always plug Liberty Hall (http://www.libertyhallwriters.org), but honestly--the best way to learn to keep writing despite mistakes is by participating in their timed Flash Challenges. I've really learned to suppress the internal editor.

-----------
Wellington


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Robert Nowall
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Backing up to rewrite seems to be too ingrained for me to stop---even when I return to the typewriter, I still try to do it. (There! I just backed up to insert "even"---and then to take care of typos...)

Even when I worked exculsively in the typewritten medium, I still scribbled out corrections and notes and new thoughts on the rough draft as I went along.

(I read somewhere that Stephen King doesn't like working on word processors...found the infinite scrolling up and down oppressive and intimidating, or somesuch..."Happiness is doing it rotten your way"...)


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TMan1969
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Stephen King prefers handraulics - I think.
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Christine
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I don't think King ever meant not to hit the backspace key to fix a typo you know you just made. Especially with computers, these ocassional backups are a part of the flow of writing. I think it might be more accurate to say that you should not stop the flow of writing to fix errors -- finish the story and then go back.
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Garp
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I nearly ruined any chance I had at being a writer by taking Stephen King's advise on this matter.

I'm a slow thinker by nature, and therefore a slow writer. I found that I write best when I write with a penicl in a notebook and keep daily goal around 2 pages. I make many changes as I write. I corret spelling, grammar, and rewrite sentences. I'll even quit a draft and restart if I think I must. My pencils do outlast my erasers.

Why do I do this when I have to write the whole thing anyway, transferring it to the computer? I think rewriting and revising imporves exponentially when you take time to do your best the first time. And I also think the quality of the frist draft improves exponentially when you take time to get each paragraph and page right--insofar as that is possible for a first draft. At least this has been my experience.

I'm not saying that King is wrong; it works for him. And this method also worked for writers such as Somerset Maugham and Ray Bradbury. But writers like James Joyce, Graham Greene, Dan Simmons, and even Dean Knootz write slowly and revise as they go along. I became far more comfortable with my work habits when I read a Q&A with Knootz on his website when he said that even though he works 8 or 9 hours a day, that might be 8 or 9 hours on 200 words, rewriting a page until it felt right.


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kings_falcon
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I think what work tends to be an issue of personality more than anything. The main point is not to rewrite to the point of not being able to move forward. Lisa Scottoline said, "give yourself permission to write a (cruddy) first draft."

I don't generally substantively edit until I am done.


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Tanglier
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Don't you think that his approach explains a bit of his flabby prose as specious plots?
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Garp
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No, actually. I think King's "specious plots" are the result of putting too much trust in his subconscious. From what I've read by him, and the interviews I've read, King seems to seriously distrust any conscious effort to form a story. He takes the romantic position that art springs forth freely from a man's inner being, and that what's there is what is supposed to be there, and any sunstantial change -- i.e., any major rewrite -- would ruin the product. Hence, his view that rewriting primarily consists of cutting 10%. But, then, this is just a guess on my part.


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Verdant
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This sometimes works for me and sometimes not. I have found the most effctive for me is actually writing out long-hand first. I have a stack of 8 1/2 x 11 notebooks filled with writing that I then transcribe into my computer. This serves two purposes: first I get the story down and the action of moving my hand works in tandem with my thoughts - they feed off each other, second, I get the benefit of a re-write when I transcribe and can correct the many spelling and punctuation errors that I inevitably make on paper.

I still find myself making corrections on the paper, however, and my pages are filled with scratch-outs, line-throughs and other notes. I just like the process and being able to fell like I've done something that isn't on a disc somewhere.


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Christine
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Well, as King makes millinos of dollars from his money, I would hesitate to suggest that what he does doesn't work. :=)

That doesn't mean, of course, that it will work for anyone else!


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Robert Nowall
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I've tried any number of media for the writing process. I've gone all the way from writing the first draft out by hand to writing one draft with constant corrections on the computer---with any degree of typewriters and word processors in between. I like to mix it up...it keeps things interesting, and sometimes helps jumpstart my creativity. (Something I'm sorely in need of these days.)

Stephen King could do with a lot more cutting than ten percent---his novels usually strike me as overly-wordy (but usually interesting). As someone once said, how do you tell the man on the bestseller lists that his books are fifty thousand words over their ideal fighting weight?


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pooka
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So has King ever written anything that would be considered educational to someone who wasn't alien to American middle-class culture?
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Robert Nowall
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I can't say I've ever "learned" anything from a Stephen King novel. Been entertained, certainly, but "learned?"...

Addendum to my comment above about the media I conduct the writing process in---one thing I don't use is dictation. I just can't phrase my sentences and paragraphs verbally---or I never learned how, one or the other...


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Tephirax
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When writing, my brain goes into the weird automatic mode, where I automatically correct small errors. Before I start writing each day I read through the previous day's work and edit out any medium errors/awkward sentences.

However, if I have a scene that needs rewriting (with the one exception of the first scene), I'll go back and make the changes before I get to another key plot point, because my edits there will often shape the story and character interactions to come.

With this system, once the first draft's finished, it needs a quick run through to tidy up plot points and any remaining awkwardness, and it's pretty much ready. Works for me, anyway. I'd go insane trying to do it King's way.

Teph


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TMan1969
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I try to ignore the computers big red and green squigly lines, its hard and I find once I do - it takes my mind away from the story. As well I end up waiting my turn, with four kids in the house they demand access too...and then attempting to correct as I write, fatigues me and I fall asleep..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, whoops
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rickfisher
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Try turning the red and green squiggly lines off. They're really easy to ignore that way.
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Lyle Smith
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I'm a big believer in the National Novel Writing Month school of writing. Writing a 50,000 word novel form start to finish in a single month's time does not leave time for editing. In fact, you are encouraged to leave your internal editor at somewhere like a dog kennel for the month you are writing. Once the editor is put away, the act of putting words on paper becomes easy.

My writing ain't perfect. I have ideas and great style, but the internal editor kept me hemming and hawwing for eight years instead of writing. Once I just started writing, I was able to come up with the first draft of my novel, "The Stalker."

While the following drafts of the novel will require a hell of a lot of hard work, I have the first draft down and have a great story to work with.


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Louiseoneal
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I used to write start to finish, and it messed me up. It's one thing to ignore style and grammar while you work out chapters of a novel. That didn't trip me up. What tripped me up is writing in a white heat and never pausing to listen to this little inner 'uh oh' as I made certain plot and character decisions. The end result: Three novels that either need complete story rewrites, or need to find a home in the trashbin. I don't regret writing them, I learned a lot, and I'm sure I can salvage a lot from them, but I wish I'd slowed down from time to time and listened to that uh oh voice as I wrote my first draft.
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rjzeller
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quote:
I can't comment. I don't make errrors.

...Am I the only one who found the irony in that statement by wbriggs? A little piece of humor most of us seeemd to have skipped by.

I see the merit in King's comments. Just get the story on the page. You may edit/change/cut at will later. I believe he also suggested that you set that finished draft aside for six months to get a fresh set of eyes on it before submitting.

I've done that...and YIKES. I can see why he says that. When the work is no longer emotionally attached to your creative stream, you find out real quick whether it's truly an interesting piece of work or an embarrasing bit of drivel.


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LibbieMistretta
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Hate typos. Must correct. Can't rest until corrected. Sentence fragments: #1 sin.
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TMan1969
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Me too! Run-ons, comma splices...on and on -
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Grijalva
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I feel the same about correcting your work as you go. I use to always need everything almost perfect to move on, but then I began forcing myself to just keep writing no matter the mess up. I find this to be a faster process in getting your story out, and keeping the flow; its like getting a ruff sketch of a drawing out first before you put in the detail, but if you already put the detail in, then everything might not fit together in the end.


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sholar
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I have to read what I wrote in the past every time I start writing (remind me where I am in the story). I automatically edit when I read. If there was obviously a mispelled word or missing comma, I would have to fix it or it would drive me insane. Also, I tend to fiddle the most with the beginning. Once I have that, the writing is much more natural. So, the first paragraph of a short story might be rewritten twenty times and then the rest just written.
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dee_boncci
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I am a chronic continuous editor (due in no small part to being a poor typist). I do wish I didn't do it, because every attempt I've made to complete something longer than 10,000 words or so never seems to get done. The constant re-reading makes me inch along until I lose the drive. By the same token, the thought of going back and completely rewriting 80,000 words is daunting too.

I'm a fan of King. I don't read his books expecting to learn anything. Early on I read them because they scared the crap out of me. When I became tougher to scare, I enjoyed them as fun stories. There were a few I found less enjoyable than others. His situations often make me stop and think, which is more than enough for my intellect. I don't follow his writing advice much because I just don't seem able to work that way.


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Sara Genge
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My first draft has to be readable, if not, I'm uncomfortable and embarrased when I'm revising and I don't get anywhere.
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Survivor
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