Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Look Back...No, Don't Look Back

The first draft of my work in progress is coming along nicely. Well, that's what I'm thinking, anyway.

I won't really know until I look back. For now, I'm resisting that urge. If I look back, will it paralyze me? Maybe I'd want to change everything, edit as I go, insist that it's horrible, weak, boring.

I'm jotting down notes on characters and scene details, as well as additional plot ideas. But that's about it. With structure in mind, I'm moving forward.

Some questions for you:
  1. Do you ever look back while you're writing your first draft?
  2. If you do, at what point do you allow this?
  3. Do you show your first drafts to your critique group?
When my critique group reads this for the first time, perhaps I'll pass out barf bags. Will they kick me out of the group forever? I'll keep you posted.

photo credit: flickr.com

42 comments:

  1. Once I have a chapter written, I tend to go back and tweak it before moving on. So yes, I'm constantly looking back, but I also make sure to keep pushing myself forward. I do show my critique group first drafts because they help me figure my story out; otherwise, I'm likely to go in completely the wrong direction.

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  2. I used to constantly look back as I wrote, but after participating in last year's NaNoWriMo, I learned that pushing through that first draft without looking back works a heck of a lot better for me! I've finished the first draft and now I'm revising. And, yeah, there is a LOT of bad writing, weak characterizations, cliches...you name it, it's there. But that's what the whole revision process is for, right?

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  3. I usually try to get the entire first draft done then let it sit for awhile before I come back to a story. My internal critic/editor is super hero powerful, so that doesn't always happen!

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  4. I promise not to throw you out. :D I do go back to fix some things if I realize I needed a specific scene that wasn't there. Basically whatever is fresh in my mind I like to get out before I lose it.

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  5. oh wow, yeah, ABSOLUTELY. i always edit as i go. i reread nearly every line before i sit down to write another sentence.. i just can't get back into the story otherwise.

    i'm always so fascinated by different writers' drafting styles!

    hang in there, love! don't let it get you down!!

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  6. You know, I love the idea of writing it completely and then going back through with the red pen but I just can't do it! I look back through every sentence, every paragraph before moving on. Good or bad, I think it's a habit that's going to stick around a while:-)

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  7. I go back way too much! I have had to force myself to keep looking forward because I really think I could edit forever. You're doing great!!

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  8. ...I'm always looking back, second guessing, tweaking, clipping & adding, and always thinking. When once there was a period where stray eyes were not permitted until the project was presentable, now I welcome readers at any time. An open door policy, where advice is not only accepted, but longed for. This approach has improved my writing two fold:)

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  9. I sometimes look back when I reopen the file, just to check what I wrote, but I try not too. I need to hash out that first draft then go back. If I did it as I was going I'd be editing the same pages 600 times if I did. lol.

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  10. I never look back at a first draft! It's too horrendous. The only way to fix anything is to wait a reasonable time when done, then go back and redo all at once imho.

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  11. I try to write my first draft without looking back but as a panster, that isn't always the case.

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  12. I do look back. I re read the first chapter a lot, and I always read the previous day's writing to get into it. But everyone is different.

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  13. I edit as I go. Then I do a bunch of edits afterwards before I show it to anyone else.

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  14. No one sees my drafts until they've been through several rounds of edits. I want to make sure the plot holes are fixed and all the biggies are fixed before anyone sees it.

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  15. I look back the entire time I'm writing, just to keep myself in the character's voice and remember where I left off. I try not to edit (too much) and I'm actually going through a first draft paranoia right now. I've joined a new crit group and I usually don't share my work until I'm on a 3rd or 4th draft, but they've got pages of my 1st. Eeek!

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  16. 1 - Yes! Always! This led me to my last problem, slashing 20k words (barf) for the better methinks... see http://tiny.cc/o5cr1 for details

    2 - I allow it after I've gotten 2-3k words down. Mostly I look back to see what I've written, refresh my memory, but at times, I decide a new route altogether.

    3 - Critique group... erm... A LITTLE HELP? What's the best way to find one of these? Prowl the blogs? Prowl Harlequin.com (if you write romance) or shall I avoid prowling altogether since it's creepily like stalking? (*snicker*)

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  17. I tend to write several chapters and then go back but just to check facts. I don't do any revisions until I'm done. Or try not to.

    However, with my latest wip I found I had to go back and revise the first act (25K) before I could move forward in the second act. I had a few brainstorms that required it.

    And no, I don't show anyone anything until I've done at least 2 revisions and a line edit. I want them to see it as presentable as possible. That way I won't have to really (hopefully) revise all that much again.

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  18. Yes I do, especially when I've put the wip down for a few days and need to get back into the feel of the story before I start writing the next scene.
    Have a great week!

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  19. I'm a don't look back girl. If I do I'll spend ALL my time looking back and I'll cease all forward motion (or crash into a tree...neither is a good option)

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  20. It's so interesting to see how each of you handles your first drafts. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.

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  21. It's best for me to write out my first draft before I start reading to my writers group. But it all depends on what help I need at the time. Hang in there and remember you're the creator of your story. Your group is there to help you make it better. It's hard to remember that while being critiqued, but hang on. It will get better.

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  22. On this manuscript, I'm looking back just far enough to get back into my story before continuing on.

    Too much looking back though can really stall the writing process - you begin editing too much before you have to.

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  23. I never show anyone my first draft. I write full-speed ahead on the first draft, never looking back, just getting the bones of the story on paper. I've heard this likened to vomitting out your story, which is an apt comparison, but perhaps a shade too graphic. :)

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  24. I don't let myself look back out of fear that I would lose momentum and interrupt the flow of my story. My crit group doesn't get to see my book until I've gone through it twice. It's a practice of mine so that they can stay sane!

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  25. I don't show first drafts to my critique group, I'm too nervous! Although I probably should as it would be better to get feedback early on in the story.

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  26. I'm a compulsive looker back writer and I never show my ms until I can't add or delete one thing. Then I let my crit group have at it.

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  27. C. Lee, it sounds as if your critique group gets a polished gem!

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  28. When inspiration is flowing don't stop and look back.
    Get through that first draft and then you will be looking back plenty as you rewrite.
    I belong to a writing group and we do critique each other-- that is soooo helpful.
    Keep going! (=

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  29. Jo, thanks for that tip! That's what I'm trying to do (so far), but I shudder to think what the critique group will think of the first draft

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  30. Olive, that's the way I feel...nervous!

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  31. Julie..I do tend to take a teeny weeny peep sometimes. But at other times I march ahead like a brave soldier, with the knowledge that edits will come to my rescue.

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  32. Rachna, that sounds about like what I'm doing, knowing that revisions will save the day!

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  33. I seldom look back when drafting. I prefer checking for facts, consistency, and repetition during revising.

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  34. Medeia, sounds like a great routine!

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  35. Another great post by YOU! Laughing about your barf bag comment! ;)

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  36. Alexis, thanks! Hopefully my critique group won't need those bags, but it won't hurt to keep them handy!

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  37. With my three first drafts this year, I never looked back. If I found I needed to add something, I used a Post-It note. One of my first drafts has one on almost every page...lol.

    Now if I had to show a group, I wouldn't be as brave as you are now. All I can say is you rock!

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  38. I wouldn't show anyone my first draft! LOL, its too horrible :)

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  39. Hey Julie,
    No. I write out the first draft completely. If I don't, I tend to start editing and get all tangled up in that. Moving forward never happens.

    This is just me, though.

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  40. No to sharing first drafts ... No to sharing 2nd drafts .... hahaha... well sometimes I let the cat look at the screen.

    I agree with editing after the first draft is finished - otherwise you can mess with the flow and it gets ... clunky.

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  41. Sounds as if most writers push through that first draft, edit like crazy, then let their group see it. Good to know!

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