When Writing Goes Bad – Word Love.

Hello, my name is Victoria Elizabeth Schwab, and I love words.

Sometimes, too much.

When I first drafted NW, I got so caught up in the wording that I would sometimes keep a scene, even if it wasn’t the strongest possible scenario, because I was attached to the way it was written. This is dangerous. Authors tell us to always push ourselves, to make it harder, to make it better, and I thought I was making it better. Better-written. All the while, though, I was forcing plot to take a backseat to poetry.

Let me tell you what happened. My editor got her hands on it. It went something like this:

Editor of Awesome: We LOVE your writing.
V: I’m so glad to hear that!
EoA: But what you have here…it’s a lot of good writing, but not enough PLOT.
V: Plot? What’s that you speak of?
EoA: You know…that thing that you write ABOUT.
V: *blank stare*
EoA: Yeah, exactly.

So I spent ten months revising with my editor, systematically rewriting NW until it had both my poetry and the plot to go with it.

Fast forward.

I am drafting a new book.

And something has shifted in me. I’m writing in order. I’m planning ahead (I know, I’m scaring myself). But most of all, I’m drafting with an eye for plot. I’m focusing on WHAT is happening first, and the HOW it’s worded second. My voice will always be there, even in the early drafts, but by forcing myself to write this way, I give myself permission to reassess, to shift, and sometimes, most importantly, to delete.

Now, this is not me giving myself permission to write SFDs. I personally don’t believe in an SFD (Sh*tty First Draft) because I edit as I go and the fact is that I need to be excited about the wording to push through. But I’m slowly learning, thanks to the very long journey of NW, to prioritize.

I will never be able to disregard the WAY something is said in the interest of what is said, because the fact is I DO love words. But, in the early stages of a book—the first draft—I’m learning to put plot first. And in so doing, I’m giving myself permission to DO BETTER. Along the way I stop and wonder (all right, almost every chapter I stop and wonder) “Is this the best I can do?”

Sometimes the answer is “Yes.” Sometimes the answer is “For right now.” And sometimes the answer, little as I like to hear it, is “NO.” I’ve chopped out entire scenes, diced up dialogue, tightened and stitched. I am a completely different beast from the one I was when I first wrote NW. And I’m excited by it*. I’m finding that balance between poetry and plot.

And this is just the first draft.

*Let it be noted that this is NOT without its angst. I go through short spasms of OH GOD THIS WILL NEVER BE RIGHT. It will never have the right pace. It will never have the right tone, etc. etc. But those are the growing pains of a draft. No matter how you write, they find their way in. Those you have to deal with, along with doubt monsters and all other little beasts that try to drag you down. I recommend a diet coke, a cookie, and a CP who will tell you to WALK AWAY.

12 thoughts on “When Writing Goes Bad – Word Love.

  1. And DID YOU walk away, pumpkin?

  2. Liam says:

    My NaNo is going to take absolutely ages to edit because I locked up JoJo the inner editor and put a muffler on her mouth.

    But now I’m getting to a deep, plotty scene. This is good news indeed.

    The thing is, when I’m writing I feel as though I’m not giving enough description.



    • veschwab says:

      I go back and layer in description later. Right now my inner editor is getting a bit vocal, which means its time to let her out for a bit, to tweak up the last 50 pages or so, before I move on.

  3. Hey Victoria, I loved this post… =D

    Now I wanna be a writer to feel how it’s dangerous… I just don’t know if i have this gift… A question for you: To be a writer, we need a gift or no?! =D

    You really don’t write SFDs… I see that in your texts… Now I’m curious to read NW, and your next books..

    Authors say that the second book is better than the first.. And I think that it’s true! \õ/

    Write more Victoria, I like your writing! =D

    I’m @srbojunior on twitter.. We were talking there are a few days ago… \õ/

    I’ll always visit you here too \õ/

    Brazilian Huges…

    Salatiel Júnior!

    • veschwab says:

      Why thank you, Salatiel! And I think it’s a combination of gift and stubborn determination :p

      And I hope you enjoy my books when they become available!

  4. Amy Lukavics says:

    OMG. This is SO me. I never even knew it until I read this, but holy crap I know exactly what you mean when you say that you’d keep an unneccesary scene just because of how it was written.

    This helped me so much, Victoria. Here is a bunch of cyber chocolate for you!

    • veschwab says:

      Hooray! I love it when something I think/write makes sense to someone else. And isn’t it funny, how in our own heads we are, and yet how hard it is for us to see things, sometimes? I can’t tell you how long it took for me to GRASP what I was doing when I kept a scene, and why.

  5. yvette says:

    This is really timely! I have just finished the ‘Warrior Writer’ course with Bob Mayer. He told us to look at what we are weakest at with our writing and focus on working on that. So I have been famous (among myself and my friends) for writing stream of consciousness and then rewriting for years on end. I have now forced myself to sit down and PLOT.
    All I have been doing is the spade-work for weeks, and sister, it’s not easy! 🙂 But hope springs eternal, that this is going to shift my writing up a gear.
    Yvette Carol

  6. thai seo says:

    hello Victoria E. Schwab , i review your blog , that a nice blog and perfect. Good for me. a lot of The Near Witch and Publishing content. i will plan to read and comment your website.

  7. I am glad to hear I am not the only one who edits the first draft as she writes…I can’t do it any other way…And..I’m learning to make sure the character’s responses to conflict propel the plot..If a scene doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work…no matter how much I love it. This is HUGE…You know you are growing as a writer when you can objectively view things that just don’t jive and question whether or not you’ve done the story and characters justice…Great post!!

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