16

I get caught up a lot in what I'm writing and I'm interested in writing a particular scene, but the scene might be chapters away. I don't like writing it before I write the rest and go back to it later, but I often find myself rushing and writing sloppy. It's probably a more personal issue I have to learn to deal with but maybe some of you have dealt with something similar.

For example, I've been writing for about 4 hours and I've only gotten about 2000 words despite knowing that should be up to about 3000-4500. I'm more interested in the action-packed scenes than the little-detailed scenes but I know they're just as important. I just can't seem to stop skipping over things.

I haven't written for months, so all of my knowledge of writing is basically thrown out the window.

  • I've had this problem a lot, and I think mostly it means I need to reexamine how I'm getting to the particular scene I want to write. If you're bored writing a scene, you can bet the reader is going to be bored reading it. Make sure that your character always has a short term goal as a step to achieving their long term, and that by the end of each unit of action (~1250-1500 words) they've failed to achieve that short term goal and need to come up with a new one. – Pasqueflower Aug 31 '18 at 20:56
  • Yeah, it happens to me quite a darn lot, I do have PTSD, Autism & ADHD and do Equine Therapy and Horse riding in Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton. It happened to me when I was filling out some Adapt account applications and had to get a 3rd one. IDK how but it happens quite a lot. – RealUprisingYT Feb 2 at 9:33
9

With me, I try to find a balance between writing 'sloppily' and generally focusing on the scenes I'm interested in and writing in a more focused way. What I do, at least regarding my novel (and my previous short stories), is the following.

  • Lay out a basic plan and outline, what themes I want to explore, who the characters are, all the basic stuff.
  • Write in an explorative manner for the first draft; run on passion for a while, see what parts work and what don't work, which parts require set-up/foreshadowing, and where and why.
  • Scrap this entire draft, but keep the notes I made on it.
  • Plan and outline everything again, this time with the notes on pacing, what worked, what didn't, what foreshadowing I needed, potential changes required for characters, et cetera.
  • Write a second draft, this one much more focused and capable of being kept around for editing (rather than rewriting). This one has the benefit of including the good parts of the explorative phase with a much more business-like, focused approach.
  • Edit the second draft as intensely as is necessary.

After that, there should be a semi-decent manuscript to send to a professional editor in there. Yes, there's a fair bit of revision and rewriting that's required, but it's better than doing lip-service revision and getting stuck in an editing/reediting loop.

16

It is not terrible practice to write some parts sloppily, if you later come back and edit them. I am familiar with the desire to get to certain scenes, and yet I need at least the general shape of the scenes before, in order to get the "interesting" scene to play out right. So sometimes I rush through a scene to get to the next one, and then go back and edit the work I know I've done badly.

If the scene I desperately want to get to is too far away, I usually just write a version of it, to get it out of my system, and then go back to writing what I should be writing. At this point, I know it's not the final version, but it's a version, so it isn't bothering me so much anymore. But you say you prefer not to do that, so maybe the first option would work better for you.

  • I often go back and fix up a lot the scenes but at that point, I feel like it's just easier to scrap the entire thing, but then I'd have to rewrite it all again and it's just a constant loop. – Kyl Aug 31 '18 at 8:02
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    While Galastel's point is valid, you raise a good point, Kyl. While you can write somewhat sloppily, you shouldn't get trapped in a cycle of rewriting. I'Lloyd write an answer of my own detailing how I hope to counter this myself. – Matthew Dave Aug 31 '18 at 8:47
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    The theme from Galastel's answer that I'd echo is that putting down the bits that are actually flowing through your mind is probably more important than getting the chronology right. Better to let your fingers dance on a section that compels you than to spend a frustrating amount of time blocked on a part that doesn't. Those other bits will come to you at some point, and the act of writing the bits that do compel you may even help the whole thing to come together in your mind. – Matthew Johnston Sep 2 '18 at 2:54
8

I write whatever scene my interest and emotions of the moment point me to, irrespective of order.

I had assumed that I'd pay for this later, when I had to return and fill gaps and write what I call "glue" to soften the speedbumps between scenes. It turns out that there is almost no scene that is truly permanently boring to me. Eventually I'm in the right mood for the scene, or I have an idea that flips that scene around and makes it more interesting to me, or I have an idea that replaces the scene.

Now, writing out of order does mean that I have to return and correct things. The fat guy is now the thin guy. Jane's fear of the dark influences Joe's decisions before Joe finds out that Jane is afraid of the dark.

But I find this a small price to pay, in comparison to enjoying writing every scene when I'm writing it. And I find that some recursiveness--not only allowing the earlier scene to influence the later, but allowing the later to influence the earlier--is a good rather than a bad thing.

  • 2
    The inevitable problem with the approach is the backlog of scenes you don't enjoy writing that come back to haunt you at the end. It's a fair approach, but not without costs. – Matthew Dave Aug 31 '18 at 9:03
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    But the point of my answer is that for me, there is no such backlog. I enjoy different scenes at different times and when I'm in different moods. Eventually, that comes around to almost every scene. – RamblingChicken Aug 31 '18 at 9:22
  • Oh. I see what you mean. – Matthew Dave Aug 31 '18 at 9:34
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    @MatthewDave Another perspective is that scenes you don't enjoy writing are likely to be the scenes the reader won't enjoy reading. As such, you probably don't need them anyway. Or rather, you might need something to fill the gap, but you probably don't need that five chapter interstitial that seemed appropriate when you were first making your story outline. Just because you plotted it, doesn't mean the final draft needs it. – R.M. Aug 31 '18 at 14:53
  • @R.M. Agreed. If you don't enjoy it, it's probably going to show through to the reader. – Matthew Dave Aug 31 '18 at 15:16
5

I have this problem myself, and I've finally realized it's not the root problem, it's a symptom of a deeper issue: I'm goal-focused as a writer, but I need to be process-focused in order to produce the kind of writing I want. In other words, I'm rushing towards a goal --finishing a book!--, but not really enjoying the time spent along the way.

The great artists I know have goals, plenty of them, and yes, ambitions too, but when it comes to their art, they are willing to spend whatever time it takes, because they enjoy the process. That's what gives their writing (or art, or music, or whatever) that depth and richness we all crave.

So instead of rushing to get words down on a page, or to just finish a book (that might not be worth reading, at the end of it all!), find something to love in each scene and each sentence. For me, learning this involved completing far too many books that no one else ever wanted to read. I now realize that all my rushing towards the goal isn't getting me anywhere I want to go. It's better-- and paradoxically, more efficient, in the long run --to spend the time now, and make it great.

3

You can enrich your story by doing a world-building revision pass. I don’t mean dropping in a bunch of setting descriptions to slow the reading. Work in setting details with language that conveys an atmosphere, have the characters act upon and react to props unique to the spirit of that place, and include smells and textures that engage readers’ senses.

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