I’m going to pull back from world building a little bit to talk about the editing process. How writers edit their own work differs from person to person, but there are general, broad -level steps most take. Write a draft, get feedback, edit, get feedback again, edit second draft, and so on. But do you edit yourself before you ever write?
This topic came up in my writing group a while ago, when one of our members said he was going to really fight the urge to go back and edit his chapters right away. Doing so would only stop him from writing the next chapter, which was a problem he had when starting projects.
I had trouble understanding that feeling, because unless a chapter or even short story needs massive editing that is going to cause upheaval in other parts of the book or story, I have zero desire to go back to it for quite some time. In the case of novels, I tend to not touch a chapter until the whole piece is done. For short stories I’ll usually move on to something else for a month or so before going back to edit (unless I’m on a deadline for submission).
This is because long before I write anything down, I’ve already been running the scene or the story in my head for weeks usually. I have one of those brains that just can’t stop thinking, and if I don’t have something to think about, it will over think everything around me. Or in my past. Or proceed to show me disastrous futures. Isn’t anxiety fun?
One way I’ve learned to cope with this constant over thinking is to daydream stories. If I have a story to think about, I can’t think about stupid shit that isn’t ever really going to affect me. So I run scenes. Over and over and over and over. I won’t necessarily run the same scene back to back, but I’ll take major scenes in the piece I’m working on and run them in my head here and there.
For a while, the scene will be different each time I run it. Conversations will change, actions will shift, even major plot elements will crop up out of nowhere and I’ll have to restructure other scenes to accommodate. Then, the scene will start to get more and more similar each time I run through it. When no more surprises pop up and the scene starts to feel rote to me, I know that is what the scene is supposed to be, and can write it easily.
That’s not to say I don’t edit it again after it’s written, but I can’t do it right away. I’ve basically done the first and second drafts of that scene before it even appeared on my computer screen, and I need some distance before I can go back and find what’s wrong.
I was a little surprised the others in my writing group didn’t do this, which we collectively decided was why they wanted to go back immediately to edit and I didn’t. To me it was the natural way to create. I was more surprised when one member said he’d heard a teacher once describe that as a technique for self-editing. Taking the time to day dream before starting to write so that what you write isn’t a bare-bones first draft. (I tried googling this to find a proper name, but my keyword game was not up to snuff on this one.)
So if you are struggling with moving forward with a story or novel because you keep going back to fix the flaws, try daydreaming on it for a few days and see what can happen before you write.
As part of my job at Anderson Archival, I write content for the company. I’m happy to say one of my articles is featured as a guest blog on the Society of American Archivists’ blog of the Electronic Records Section (bloggERS!).
Digitizing the Stars: Harvard University’s Glass Plate Collection is about the early astronomical photographic techniques, the female computers who studied them, and what the Harvard Observatory is doing to bring all that data into the digital age.
With the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 (KH3), a game I’ve wanted pretty much since KH2 came out in 2005, I’ve really been thinking about the role of an expanded universe of titles on various franchises. Expanded universes exist in all forms of media, including comic books, books, TV shows, movies, audio dramas, and video games. And we generally love them for it. Fantasy and science fiction fans seem especially drawn to expanded universes. As someone who often says “I want to write all the stories” of the worlds I create, the bigger question is why not explore these amazing universes to their fullest? Read More
Darkling’s Beasts & Brews published by Lycan Valley Press is now available for pre-order.
It includes my poem “And They Ride.” I don’t consider myself a poet, but every once in a while I manage one and this one was accepted. Plus the book has a whole slew of drink recipes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. So it’s both fun and useful!
I’m going to go ahead and revisit Doctor Who now that we’ve got the series over with. (There will be mild spoilers this time.) On a personal like or dislike level, I still fully love the new tone and direction of the show. So I was a bit surprised when I came across a number of critiques on the season’s showrunner, Chris Chibnall. Of the most common complaints I saw, one was that there weren’t enough callbacks to the previous seasons or Doctor Who lore, and the other was that the show felt small. The later I thought was hilarious because that is one of the biggest reasons I love the new season. So let’s go ahead and look at these two issues and see what they mean for Doctor Who.
I’ve added a donation button to my website for anyone who would like to show their appreciation for the stories and articles I write. Any donations help me offset the cost of this website as well as all the various functions of life as an aspiring author. Even a dollar or two can help. Thank you to all who consider donating.
Doctor Who is back and I can’t be more thrilled. I love Doctor Who and was excited for the new season for so many reasons. One obviously was that Jodie Whittaker was going to be the Doctor, and that was historic for the show overall. (She killed it, by the way.) But even more than that, this was going to be the first episode and season without Steven Moffat as showrunner. And so, this gives me a chance to talk about an aspect of world building that I haven’t touched on much before: tone.
Mind Candy Too is officially available for purchase on Amazon. It includes my short story “Sandy.”
“Sandy” is about the life of a woman with minor super powers, the ability to make someone experience the memories and feelings of another person, in a world of superheroes.
Support the anthology and buy one today!
During the Writer’s Digest Annual Convention, I had the privilege to talk with Theresa “Soni” Guzmán Stokes, Executive Director of the Historical Writers of America. During our conversation, I said that world building as I see it is fictional anthropology. There are so many things that interact and affect each other when creating a new culture that sometimes get overlooked by fantasy and sci-fi writers because they don’t look at their world like an anthropologist would a new culture to study. So let’s take a look at just a fraction of the things to think about when creating a new culture, and how everything around them can be interdependent with the culture.