Sunday, February 15, 2009

Write Every Day! And Delete With Impunity!

I hit a small snag in my novel and I stopped writing for a week and a half. Today, I slapped myself around some, uploaded my Neo files to my computer and started writing again. And I wrote a great scene.

It's all too easy to get out of the habit. Sometimes, the amount I write is very small--not even a thousand words. It's not easy trying to be a writer with a disabled child and while working full time. But I still have an hour or so to myself in the evening, and I still have my Neo, which I can use to write almost any time. I have no excuse.

Slow but steady was how I wrote my 75,000 word first draft of Starcaster in five months. Progress is progress, even when you occasionally have to delete a scene. So if you are a writer--and I'm thrilled that not all the followers of this blog are writers, since that means they are READERS interested in my work--if you are a writer, be sure to scribble something down every day.


On a related note, I've noticed that the number of discarded scenes for this novel is sharply down. Here's a rundown of my discarded scene for all my novels:

Oath of the Songsmith - All of it
Forging a Legend - 55, some of then quite lengthy
Starcaster - 40, most rather short
A Hollywood Miracle - 2, so far, each very short, of 12,000 words

I don't know if this is because I'm working from an outline this time. All my other novels just grew, and required extensive reworking even while I was writing it. With AHW, I'm doing a lot of thinking before I actually write anything. Or, I write it in my notebook first, where I appear to plan things better.

Oh, and I should add that my motto about deleting is "delete with impunity, but save everything". This is why I have all my deleted scenes in dozens of tiny files on my hard drive.

What about you? Do you write every day? Do you delete a lot of scenes?


  1. {thoughtful look} I don't write stuff down every day, but I spend several hours "playing with characters." If I've borrowed someone else's character(s), I don't bother to write it down. If they're all my own characters, I usually do unless I feel it's too personal. Sometimes I've run an idea thru 20, even 50 permutations first, but once I decide which way I like it, usually do write it down. {Smile}

    I'm afraid it only gets saved if it gets written down, of course. Unfortunately, I neither write nor type fast enough to jot down 50 variations of one scene just so I can save the 49 versions I don't use! {Chuckle, SMILE, wink}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. I've been thinking about this a lot lately... what, with all the GRRM/FTB arguments referencing Steven King's book instruction to write daily regardless of how you feel.

    Frankly, I don't believe I'm organized enough to sit down and go through the writing ritual every single day, but as I reflect on the past few weeks I can honestly say that I have been working on "Scions" almost daily. Whether that meant edits or additions, work is work.

    That being said, I still think that I'm unable to work by an outline. I'm definitely a "Freewriter" and it shows with just how disjointed some of my storylines have become in the past, but that's what editing is for. Sometimes I wish I could work with outlines, think in context and plan out entire scenes... but I'm just not wired that way.

    It remains to be seen whether this is a good or bad thing.

  3. Anne, sometimes, I have to just think about things too. But I usually jot some of my thoughts down, even if they are just questions.

    TD, it is that controversy that prompted this post! And which made me realize I was slacking.
    AHM is the first novel that I've had such a clear idea of the ending, so I've definitely been a freewriter until now.

  4. Perhaps there is hope for us who write by the seat of our pants, yet.

    My problem with the story I tried to outline was that the scope became far too narrow --- the story didn't have enough story, so I ended up having to abandon the outline altogether.

  5. Oh, that happens to me. In my current story, the outline wasn't nearly big enough for a 75,000 word book. Fortunately, another story started weaving itself in the main story, and this second story is very much a "freewriter" style story, because I have no idea where it's going. I do know where it needs to end up, so at least I have a signpost.

  6. I haven't written in months - it might have been May of last year - and I've been quite happy.
    I was particularly motivated at first when I started my second novel, Flower Wars, but company came to visit, vacation (travel) a bunch of things got in the way, then I found myself struggling with the should I/shouldn't I do I really want to do this. If I have to battle with myself, and obsess when I do write -is it worth it?

    Of course there are quite a number of other factors that have demotivated me to write, some good, (like wanting to spend more time with family and friends, AND be a READER :-)) and others not so good (my experience with the publishing process).
    I do enjoy being a READER and I especially have enjoyed reading the up and coming bestsellers novels, you and Kirstophrenia's !
    I'm also in an online writing group, although I haven't contributed (either writen work or offered comments, those stories that I did read were enjoyable.

    Now on to important things . . . what scenes from Forging a Legend have gone bye bye? :-( There were only a few scenes that I'd like to see edited out (recall I mentioned them as I was distressed by them) but other than that . . . Glad I read it before it went to print because the scenes will still live in my head!

  7. Thank you again, Lisa!! You're my biggest fan!

    I think the only scene that will have to go in its entirety is the Thesk introductory scene. Since I'm writing from only Verit and Abriel's point-of-view, I can no longer have that scene. I figured out a way to keep the Thesk death scene, however. I will also have to get rid of my Fiodan and Leordis epilogues, which really were nothing more than teasers for the next book.

    All the Verit scenes will be rewritten as first person. None of the Abriel scenes need to be changed--so far.

    I'll send you my rewritten Verit scenes, if you want. I also plan on posting a few of them here for general comment.

  8. This got me thinking that books should have "deleted scenes" like a DVD. That's be fun.

  9. I usually don't write stuff down until I feel a scene has "jelled" a bit. Trying to write it down too early... is hard on erasers, the story, and me. The erasers see a lot of use. The story tends to get stuck with things I'm not sure it needed. And I end up frustrated with all the correcting. {lop-sided smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  10. TD, that would be fun. Lisa Shearin used to put some of her deleted scenes on her blog. But I don't think she deleted as much from her second novel.

    Anne, I take a similar approach, and I think that's why I'm ending up with fewer deleted scenes these days.

  11. "Writing" as in actual fiction words? Heh, no, it doesn't happen every day and I actually am not terribly worried about it now.

    "Writing" as in the physical process of making marks on paper (taking notes, usually, scribbling random ideas down, etc--usually on my breaks at work), or "typing" (forum messages, IM, email, blogs, etc)? Yes, every day. :P

    I probably should get back into writing something real and productive (or just actual word count words) but can't seem to care that much, since I have managed to finish a new short every few weeks, and am slowly getting back into novel chapters.

    Knowing that I CAN get stuff done when I actually try and have poking, I tend to slack off more. :P Ah well, right now I'm not so worried about it.

    Anyway, for deleting things... well, all the time. :p It depends on the novel or story. I've scrapped entire novels, partials, shorts, novellas, etc. Yes, I save a copy of everything, but it's all in the 'scrap heap' folder, never to be touched again. ;) (Unless I pick apart ideas/concepts for later work.)

    With a few novels, the ones I've rewritten from scratch five times, I tend to scrap most of what I wrote before and start over, saving only a few relevant bits. *shrugs*

    So I guess I "delete" a lot in some regards, and don't in others. Whether it's scenes, subplots, characters, etc, it all depends. Sometimes I get a story how I like it and don't change it or delete all that much (except extra, unneeded words).

    I know, way to be vague, huh. :P


  12. I don't write every day, but I am trying to get on that track. I do *think* about my writing all the time, so my characters are never very far away. Just the whole getting it on paper somehow gets away from me. But, I am working on it.


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