Thursday, February 18, 2021

Abandoning Your Darlings

 I may have mentioned I now no longer edit first drafts; I re-write them. (I have so much going on right now I don’t remember what I told The Beloved Spouse™ ten minutes ago, so how am I going to remember what I might have written last month?)


Full disclosure: it’s not exactly a first draft I’m re-writing. It’s about a draft-and-a-half. Something like those 24 ouncers you get at some bars. I did an entire draft in Scrivener, which I like a lot because of how easily I can move things around. I let it sit a while, then read it through, making notes as I go. Another pass to address the notes, making additions and cuts as needed. Then I let it sit again.


Now I’m rewriting. (Or re-typing, depending on your opinion of my writing.) Scrivener is at the top of my screen, Word at the bottom. Some things come over verbatim. Nothing gets copied and pasted. Even if a large chunk comes over with no changes, I make myself retype it.


This is not because I’m super old school. This gives me every opportunity to make change. Typing can be a chore for me, so if I really don’t feel like transferring something, maybe that’s the Muse telling me that bit doesn’t belong. I rephrase a lot of things, and sometimes add several paragraphs if a new bit presents itself.


This is the second book I’ve done this way; the process is still under refinement. The downside is it’s far more time consuming than converting the Scrivener files to Word and doing a straight-up edit. (Scrivener is great for assembling stories, but shit for editing.) The upside is that it’s far more time consuming than converting the Scrivener files to Word and doing a straight-up edit, which forces me to think about everything.


As we all know, the most difficult, and important, aspect of writing is killing your darlings. You worked hard on them and it breaks your heart to hit the delete key. Re-doing the whole thing means that never happens. Now when I come across a darling and the realization strikes that it doesn’t belong, I just leave it out, as it’s far easier to leave your darlings by the side of the road than it is to kill them.


Elgin Bleecker said...

Whatever your method is, it's working, Dana. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

Dana King said...

Thanks, Elgin.