Author knows best

This is just me on another one of my rants because writing hasn’t gone well. Please, bear with me. Who knows, this post might even be interesting.

The title is an obvious modification to the good old saying “mother knows best”. I find the two statements to be equally true. Mothers knows their children just as authors know their work. They’ll always be the first to know if something is wrong. This instinct can be honed only by experience.

Recently I’ve been hovering over a paragraph. I’ve stared at it for more than a day and decided at last to delete it. I’ve since rejected three replacement passages. I think most writers can identify with this feeling. We know when we get it right. We are also the first to suspect our work.

I’ve written and uploaded work I wasn’t fully happy with before. The results were surprising. Almost all of my readers knew what I did not like and pointed it out to me. I’ve also given feedback to other authors and found that they shared my opinion.

Thus I have reached an conclusion. Anyone that settles for writing that they are not satisfied with makes a compromise. I for one do not want to be that person and am prepared to make absolutely no progress until I get things right. Maybe I’ll come up with something before I fall asleep.

  1. I hear what you’re saying, but I really strongly caution you against trying to write perfect first drafts. The way writing gets from decent to great isn’t usually a writer agonizing over each word in their minds until it comes out just perfectly. Rather, even the most highly lauded writers just put words on the page for a first draft, make a second pass, then a third, a fourth, etc, revising repeatedly, getting closer to their ideal more and more (though not necessarily during every revision cycle). If you want the words to come out perfectly initially you’re just going to frustrate yourself needlessly and may never actually finish anything.

    • I do not believe in “perfect” writing. This is by no means about getting the right words in the right places. It’s the substance of the story.

      I encountered an interesting situation in chapter 4 of Sacrilege. I read the first draft several times and found it boring. I couldn’t believe how I conjured something so banal. After obtaining a second opinion on the matter, I decided to take to it with a sledgehammer.

      It’s easy to fix awkward sentences, correct typos and improve your prose. Realigning the plot and characters, however, is much harder to do.

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