This is a copy-paste of a long comment I made on Reddit, so if you've already read it there, you can feel free to completely ignore this week's post and go dream of happy puppies.
I had a whole new, original blog post written out, and then I realized that I was basically saying what I said in that comment using different words. So what's the point?
Earlier this week, I tweeted this: "In trying to write [Wintersteel] more efficiently, I'm writing all the scenes that I would normally skip, cut, or summarize. I really hope this book doesn't suck. If I have to go back and rewrite half the story, I will weep tears of blood."
Here's my fuller, probably-too-long explanation (taken right from my Reddit comment):
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
I hate slow stories. I have zero patience with fiction. If nothing happens in a scene, I want it gone.
I can’t stand musicals because, in most musicals, the second a song begins the story comes to a DEAD STOP. You could go to the bathroom and miss nothing but the sick beats.
So in my own writing, I am ruthless about culling anything that I would consider wasted time.
Some might say TOO ruthless.
My normal process is to make a plan, then dive in and start writing it, and whenever I hit a scene where I feel like the pacing is starting to drag, I change the plan.
I either combine scenes so that I’m only writing one where the plan called for three, or I cut scenes from the plan, or I’m halfway through writing a scene and I stop and go back and summarize what would have happened in 2-3 lines instead of a whole scene.
Usually the first scenes to go are the scenes that exist primarily for world- or character-building, or scenes that I thought would just be cool.
For instance, I had a bunch of scenes planned in Skysworn just with the Skysworn going around doing missions.
I had this whole idea in Blackflame for Lindon to interact with Lezaar, the Arelius family refiner, and demonstrate how refining works. And also a sub-plot with Yerin where she found out that a Truegold was going around claiming to be the Sword Sage.
There were Soulsmithing scenes planned in virtually every book, which I either skipped or cut.
Anyway, the point is that this process—constantly planning and re-planning and cutting and skipping and figuring out how to combine scenes—takes a long time.
It usually takes me 4-6 months to produce a Cradle book, and I often have 50k words of waste. On paper it should take me less time and there should be less waste.
So, this time, I’ve written my outline the same way I always do, but I’m hammering out the draft quickly without giving myself time to alter the plan as I go.
The THEORY is that the changes I’ve made haven’t really been improvements, they’ve just been lateral moves that have cost me time.
So now, we think we’ll see one of two results:
1.) A more fleshed-out Cradle book with more words that actually took less time to write.
2.) A bloated, boring mess that loses the snappy pacing I love so much and is in dire need of a critical edit.
I’m really hoping for #1, but even if we end up with #2, we’ll have learned that the “constantly fiddle and re-plan” phase is necessary to my process.
P.S. The idea is that the extra time I save on the drafting stage is meant to go to editing. So if I write the first draft in half the time, I can spend twice as much time as usual on edits.
This book has been out forever at this point.
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