Finish Your Story Already!

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (Click here to read my post from that night), I got a great piece of advice from best-selling author Jonathan  Maberry.

With all this NANO buzz going around, I am reading multiple blogs that say many of you are writing “really fast” just to get your word count in, and then going back and editing it so it sounds better, and then you plow forward again to make your word count (now even more stressed because you took up your writing time editing).  REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.

Jon’s advice was not to re-write too soon.  He said to write your first draft all the way through. Once you are done, then you can go back and revise.  This is what he calls the “art of writing”.  He said that your first draft will concentrate on the substance… This is where the best part of the story comes out on the paper (or screen).

Don’t worry if it’s perfect… just get it all down and out of your head.  Once you have your idea all down in front of you, then you can concentrate on the “craft”.

Now is the time to add setting and character description if you missed  them the first draft.  Look at your punctuation, and watch for writing crutches and clichés.  Cut out scenes that don’t fit.  Re-write what’s just plain bad.  All this is part of the “craft” of writing.

So, if you’re NANOing, or just out there writing a great story at your own pace…  Don’t stress over it.  Enjoy the art of writing.  This is the best part for an author… having your vision materialize for others to read.

Worry about making it sound good later.  You will have plenty of time to edit when you’re all done.

Jennifer Eaton


13 responses to “Finish Your Story Already!

  1. Well said, Jennifer. I do revise some as I go along, but I don’t get hung up on it. I simply print the previous day’s batch, read it and scribble notes on the pages to address later on.

    And you’re so correct; anyone who has not revised a first draft yet can rest assured they’ll have PLENTY of time to do so. 😉

  2. So true, so true. I just always followed my gut, and my gut said to write the story straight through first. I was doing this before I learned what Stephen King had to say on the matter. I won’t even tell you my word count because it’s embracing. LOL When I started this last MS I thought I was writing a book. Apparently it’s several. But every day I get that much closer to finishing. Yay!

    I can’t wait to start editing. 😀

    • I am guilty of this, too. I took a 10 year break from writing, and when I came back I went hog wild. I had this amazing story, and I just wrote it until it was out of my head. In the end, my novel was well over 400,000 words. I have since cut it into four novels, but it’s been tough.

      I am hoping I can reign in my enthusiasm next time!

  3. Hi, Jennifer! I sort of “met” you last Saturday at the Blogfest in Audubon. I was struggling with some technical issues and need to be in Amy’s group. Unfortuantely that took longer than I thought it would and your group broke up. I hope to have the opportunity to really meet you a future Meetup. I’m sure you have a lot of good pointers that will be useful to me. In the meantime, I’ll be following you and hope to get more insight. This post is very helpful. I have not been going back to re-write and I’m glad I’m not making a mistake by doing this. I’m at about 21,000 words and I’m happy with my overall progress. Thanks!

    • 21,000 words is awesome! Just keep moving forward, and fight the temptation to go back. Good luck!

    • Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with your blogging. Amy’s a great teacher, and I’m sure you guys in the blog building group were in good hands!

      You can always find me here, or shoot me a question through “Meetup” if you need some help (or just chuck something at me if you see me around) 🙂

  4. I agree with this! I enjoy the first draft the most and it’s better to get to the end before revising so you know where you’ve ended up and can tweak the journey.

    • Absolutely. You can also add little snippets into earlier sections that will lead in to later chapters if something popped into your head later on — just do it when your done. Don’t stop and go back half way through. It will ruin your MOJO.

  5. absolutely! I remember the relief and sheer giddiness i experienced when i completed the first draft of the novel…it wasnt perfect but it was a finished piece!!

    • Oh, I know! A few months ago I added a final scene that I think really bought the novel together. I cried when I was done. (In a happy way) Of course, I’ve been on a roller coaster ride edit since, because a few days later I decided it STUNK again. So happy I’m past that!

  6. this is soooo true. I remember with my first WIP, it took me months to get past the first chapter because I kept revising and revising. After reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, I did exactly what Jon suggested – write, write, write, get it out and edit later. What they don’t tell you is you have to edit again, and again, and then again. and then when the editor/publisher takes it on, there will be more edits. Just gotta keep at it, but the main thing is to just write.

    • Ha! And you’ve rewritten that beginning three times in the past five months. Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

      Looking forward to beginning number six (or is it seven?) 🙂