Linda Maye Adams

Soldier, Storyteller

How I edit as I write without an outline


Land ho!  I just blew past my book’s halfway point.  Now I’m on the side where the story has the potential to suddenly start moving very fast (writing-wise).  Sometimes that gets it’s own momentum.  With luck, three more weeks, maybe less.

I’m constantly moving around in the story, making changes.   Everyone tends to say, “Don’t edit/revise as you write,” but really, it’s the most natural thing for me to do because it’s part of the creation process.  It’s part of how I discover the story as I write, since I don’t know where everything is going.

And yeah, I did follow the “Don’t edit/revise as you write” for a while because it’s one of those pieces of advice that makes sense, which is what made it bad — the common sense feeling of it is why I did it.  It’s actually unnatural for me to write straight through to the end of the story, because I end up with a messed up book.

Now I do have some ground rules for the changes:

  1. No happy to glad. I’m not tweaking words to make them perfect.  I used to work with a writer who worried about whether women readers would read the book or put it down because of a particular word choice.  I don’t worry about that kind of stuff.
  2. No moving around if I’m stuck. One of the things that became an issue was if I got stuck, I’d go back and make tweeks instead of trying to fix the problem.  The tweeks were often happy to glad, rather than useful, so if I get stuck, I have to focus on moving forward.
  3. Changing anything has to have really legitimate reasons. It can’t be because I’m stuck, or a vague “something is wrong.”  Left brain is always going to scream, “Ack! Ack!  The story is broken!  Fix!  Fix!” even when it really isn’t.

More typical of what I move back to is taking care of a section that needed more research, or that I’d discovered some research that shows me a better way of what I was trying to do.  Nearly most of this involves setting, because that’s a huge chunk of the character’s perception of the world around him.

It’s kind of like I’m just making sure all the parts are connected together.

And I also check for typos.  I always find those. 😦

All of this sound simple, but in some respects it is, and in other respects it isn’t.  It’s just what my process is.  The first rule is really to always trust the process, and that often gets forgotten with other rules.

3 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on artfulhelix and commented:
    This way of writing reminds me of how I tend to write, so I thought I would share. Hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you for the awesome post Linda Maye Adams.

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  2. I usually edit as I write–at the beginning anyway as I reread to see where I am. I did the least editing as I went along on my last NaNoWriMo novel. No time!

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    • The key is that if something comes out, paste it into another file or at the end of the document. Then you’re still giving yourself credit for the word count.

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