Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WIP Wednesday - What Kind of a Writer are You?

Non-fiction update: Edits with my developmental editor are complete and I am now working with a fabulous line editor. A few revisions led to a much needed new Chapter 1 :D Things are looking good!

As to my question for the day, we talk a lot about being a pantser or outliner, but I've been thinking about another kind of writer lately.

My crit group started up again recently, and this time, I didn't have a finished project to post. So I've been writing as I go along, sometimes finishing my required pages the day I'm supposed to post.

Now, I knew this about myself before, but it's really been driven home lately - I am a layer writer.

My first draft is generally nothing but getting the actual blow by blow scene down. She did this, he said that, they went here, she said something else. It's flat but it gets the basic scene done. Then I go back and add some emotion to it. Give the characters reactions, feelings. Then I'll usually go back and add more action or motivation or anything else that's missing.

I try to do all this on the first try, of course. But invariably, I usually end up with a flat, bare bones scene that needs a few more layers to really make it work.

I can tell when I've had the time to go back over my weekly post several times, because the comments I get from my awesome crit partners on the emotions and tension and action in the scene are generally better than when I posted at the last second.

And when I post for my second crit group, after I've revised several times incorporating awesome main CPs' corrections and suggestions and added layer upon layer, I can really tell a difference.

I have improved a bit over the years. And if I go slowly and think about every line before I write it, I can get some of those layers in there the first time around. But when I do this, my projects have a tendency to fizzle out. I lose interest in them. Because I'm spending too much time trying to get them perfect the first time around.

If I just word vomit the scene and worry about adding the layers once I have the basic structure set, I have a much better completion rate. And I enjoy writing the story more as well.

How about you? Do you layer with each revision or can you get it all out with the first draft? (and I envy you if you can!) :D

12 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

First of all Michelle I just want to say that I love your blog. You have so many quick, fun, hilarious posts, but then every once in a while you hit us up with something that is great in a different way. Like this.

I had never considered this possibility before, but it is right on the money for me. Sometimes I have to cut a layer or two as well, like too much description, but adding emotion and subtle clues as to motivation is so much easier to do properly during revision. At least it is for me.

Thanks!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm a layer, too. A writer friend of mine finished her book in about two-three months, including having half of it critted by a crit group. Because of their slow pace, she sent her finished book to beta readers (which was actually a smart idea). She's now querying (and landing requests).

But the truth be known, I enjoy layering. Sure it takes longer, but it also delays the rejections. ;)

Misha said...

Oooh I'm a huge layer writer.

I'm currently only concerned with getting the story down. Sometimes I even postpone choosing character and place names.

I have a method to my madness though.

The reason why I write like this is because I self edit much more than is healthy. Especially when I have to write at the slowish speed required of me to put in descriptions first time.

So I basically rush through the story to prevent myself from deleting half or more of the stuff I have written.

I guess that makes me a closet self editor too...

Christine Fonseca said...

Hmm...I don't know what kind of writer I am. I plan and stew A LOT before writing - so mayb that it what I am: A planning stewer???

Crimey said...

Michelle, awesome post. I layer revisions. I tend to go through a chapter repeatedly with specific revision goals each time.

Clarissa Draper said...

I am a layerer. I start with bare bones and slowly add muscle and skin. I hope to have a body of fiction at the end.

CD

Angela said...

Does anyone get it all out in the first draft? Well, I suppose sometimes I get a little too much out in the first draft, but then, yes, layering is always necessary in some form.

Good post.

lbdiamond said...

You hit the nail on the head, Michelle! I totally write in layers! Thanks for coming up with the correct term to quantify it! :D

Tere Kirkland said...

That is the second post today that someone used the phrase "word-vomit". I'm going to take that as a sign, and my new mantra:

First drafts are word vomit; don't get it right, get it written.

Great post!

Carolyn V. said...

I layer each revision. I think that's why it takes me so long to get through the revision process. How cool would it be to write it once? Wow.

Katie S. Taylor said...

I think everyone layers a little because you go back and read, decide you want to add something or change it, and then presto! As far as vomit words and bare bones, I don't do that. The scene has to be "complete," otherwise I end up hating it, thinking it's too weak, and get quickly discouraged. But, because of this and the fact I don't really edit as I go, I also have a lot of errors. But it's okay, because I have great critique partners. =).

KS Taylor

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I outline and then write the basics. I sometimes get hung up when I know I've used the wrong phrasing and have to remind myself that I will fix it on the next pass through. The only thing I get right on the first pass is the dialogue.