Saturday, September 28, 2013

Finish What You Started

Scott D. Parker

Every author can struggle with it and it's one of the two fundamental things any write must do. There are countless blogs about it, our own Joelle Charbonneau wrote about it last week, and there was a link via SF Signal Thursday about.

You simply must finish whatever project you start.

This comes from a guy who spent the past seven years starting and stopping various projects for no good reason. I'll pick laziness as my reason of the day. The struggle to get through a hard spot in a manuscript is the drudges, but it's a learning experience.

I thought of all that again this week as I near the end of book two this year and a plot idea suddenly showed up. As soon as I wrote it, I told myself, "you know, this probably should have gone in an earlier spot in this book." There was a moment, a long moment, when I sat there, fingers over keyboard, thinking if I should abandon forward progress and insert said plot point into the manuscript. Back in 2006, when I wrote my actual first novel, my reading buddies asked a question about a certain set of characters. I rattled off all that they were doing off screen. They said I should put all of that in. Well, I stopped forward momentum and did exactly what they asked for. Nothing wrong with that, really, but it killed the progress.

The decision I came up with this week was, ultimately, an easy one: Not now.

Perhaps my inner editor is right and the point belongs earlier in the book. Fine. Save that for Draft 2. This is the First Draft. And, above all else, it needs to be completed. I'm very close. I made a note and moved forward.

Progress to The End. It is the key to this entire industry. Just. Keep. Going. If I've learned one thing this year, it's that writing every single day without fail will, eventually, get you to The End. If I've learned two things, it's to finish what you started no matter what. You can tweak later. Get it on paper.

Do y'all ever stop midstream and fix something in an earlier section? How does that work out for you?


Dana King said...

Never ever ever ever ever. You're absolutely right; this is what drafts are for. From a practical perspective, you may get to the end of the current draft and have another, even better idea. Then you have twice as much re-writing to do.

Talent, muse, call the tools needed to write whatever you want. The most important, by far, is discipline. Flutter away at every good (at the moment) idea you get, and nothing ever gets done.

Brian said...

I write and rewrite all along the way. Sometimes it works find, sometimes not. But it is my way.

Brian said...

Should be fine not find

Scott D. Parker said...

Dana - I added up the words I put down the past two days on a church retreat--me, on bus w/23 kids, bluetooth keyboard + iPad--and noticed I passed 90,000 on the new book. And I can tell it's already probably too long, but I'm in the final stages. But I'm forging ahead and I will finish. Re-write for this one will probably include slashing chunks of text, but that's okay. It's text that's out of my head and onto the page.

Brian - When I get to writing my next short story--hopefully as soon as Tuesday when I finish this novel--I am going to take a serious look at revising along the way. Not sure that works for me. I think I've established this year that blazing away at a manuscript for any length of story is my method, but I'm going to try. The main reason I don't, to date, is time. I don't have a lot of time in the day to write so I'd prefer crafting new words versus fixing old ones.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I rewrite everything I have written on a story every day. I recently heard Kate Atkinson say the same thing. I always thought I was the only one.

David Cranmer said...

I'm thinking about a certain Cash Laramie/Carter story you and I started awhile back. But we did finish that one, right?