I just took a great piece of writing advice that I'd always seen floating around, but never had the patience to try.
I put my manuscript down for three months. I didn't look at it, I didn't (to the best of my ability) think about it, I didn't talk about it. I didn't add to it, I didn't plot, I didn't work on character outlines. Nothing. Like the story didn't exist. For three months.
Last week, I picked it back up and started editing on page 1. It was a revelation. I could simplify, streamline, improve with ease. For all the parts that never seemed quite right, I could immediately tell why they weren't right, and fix them.
I thought I'd report that, for anyone who has the patience, just leaving the thing alone for a long time is a pretty smart thing to do.
[This message has been edited by J (edited February 20, 2008).]
You know, lots of people have great results with this. It's never worked for me. I've even let something alone for, like, six months. Still, no clarity. I tend to obsess about stories though. Even when I'm not actively working on them I'm churning them through in my mind. I've tried working on new stuff to keep my mind off the aging stuff, but alas, no luck. Glad it worked for you, though.
Posts: 2185 | Registered: Aug 2007
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That really worked for me when I was doing essay's and Non-fiction, But I can never really take my mind of a story. It never stops developing until I put it in an envelope and kiss it into the Abyss.
Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jan 2008
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I advocate this approach and have been telling people this for years. The problem I have is that when I go back to the story, especially if I have been away from it for a long time and have improved my story telling or writing style, I discover that its crap.
I keep an old novel I wrote years ago just as an example of how not to write. On the other hand, it also shows me how much I have improved over the years.
I agree with those that say the story never leves them until a stamp is put on the envolope. It's not such a bad thing though, especially if you know something isn't quite right, but you haven't figured out what. It will come to you at the most unexpected moments.
The thing is, when that one's put away, you should be working on ANOTHER one, so your mind isn't churning away on the one that's supposed to be "resting." That's the trick of it. And it's a great system.
I practice that, but they prey on my mind nonetheless. Just over the last couple of days, a failed novel bubbled up out of my subconscious with some details to add to a couple of scenes in the first chapter. (If only I had the time and energy to write some of it down...)
Posts: 8809 | Registered: Aug 2005
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yet another reason i sent the book i finshed to a friend for editing. if i dident i would not be able to stop changing things. even now after i sent it to him. i think of new thing to add. i send him a email telling where it will fit in and he replies
"you finshed the work, that is why you sent it to me for editing. if you didnt it would have taken longer than 6 years to compleat book 1."