Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: rewriting

Fits and Starts Whee!

Well, the title says it all. My writing hasn’t been steady. I either have a god flow of ideas, or none at all. This wouldn’t be a problem if I could wrap my head around my plot cards like I’ve sometimes been able to do in the past, but even those aren’t helping.

I’m not working on my speculative fiction either. My brain switched gears hardcore toward the end of July, and I’m not working on gay romances. My usual habit with these has been to run with an idea and write on the story until it fizzles out because I don’t have a solid ending. Yes, the goal is to get the couples matched up by the ends of their stories, but I need to know the details as each story ends a different way. I’ve also been trying to insert some discipline into my gay romance writing and have been doing plot cards before starting to write on the projects. Not yet perfect, but I actually think that’s unattainable at this point, so I’m telling myself to be pleased with the successes I’ve had.

However, I will say that when the ideas flow, I write pretty much every day. I got I think about two weeks (5 days each) of writing in when I did write. One story I’m rewriting from an older version with updates to my style and skill, including moving the conflict to the spots where it needs to be instead of deflating that aspect of the story within the first few chapters. I like what I’ve gotten so far on that rewrite, and I’ll probably make the original version available as a freebie somehow if I ever publish the new version.

Other than that, I’ve not been doing much with my writing. This focus is so complete I can barely even make myself read the off-the-shelf D&D campaign I’ve got to prep for—2 weeks left for that and I just cannot get into the campaign book ’cause I’m so focused on gay romances. LOL

Hair and D&D and Writing, Oh My!

Shan the Wizard

Greg’s Character, Shan

Tuesday was a good day. I slept well Monday night and actually awoke naturally around 07:00. I spent the next hour or so just lazing in bed thinking about stuff as I like to do when I wake up on my own after a good night’s sleep. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, I’d dozed off a few times and it was going on nine.

First thing I did after my morning routine was go out to Orlando’s Salon to have my hair done. A little more expensive than I usually like to go, but I was tired of the place I’d been going to, where the hairdressers went off some old, old haircut I got years ago and didn’t seem willing to listen to me when I tried to get them to change the style. I’ve kept my hair quite short for years, and I want to change it a little—let the top get a bit longer than it’s been for the past few years—and I didn’t think the hairdressers at my old place, a Supercuts within walking distance, would listen to me about it. One of my friends recommended the hairdresser I went to today, and, really, the price quoted to me when my friend went in (I was with her) wasn’t all that much more than what I’d been paying.

I like the haircut. Though I think she left the sides and back longer than I wanted (I asked for as short as she could get it), I am very pleased with how she cut the top. I had her take about half an inch off, to keep the bulk of the length but get rid of the ends (which I thought might be starting to split, considering how my hair was behaving after washing). At the end, she asked how I felt about putting product in, and I told her it depended largely on what I was going for with my hair, and that currently I primarily want wash-and-wear. Since I’d told her over the course of the haircut that I tended to wash my hair only once a week to prevent it turning into a haystack, she introduced me to a leave-in conditioner to spray in after I towel-dry my hair.

After that, I came home and prepared for my afternoon. One of the calls I made yesterday was to arrange an “appointment” with another friend. He wanted to join in the D&D gaming with my longtime gaming friends—that D&D campaign I’m writing up. So at 15:00, I packed up everything and headed down to Oasis Games.

On the way, approaching the entrance, I noticed someone standing on the sidewalk toward the street. He was facing the street, standing behind, from my perspective, one of the trees that line the sidewalk. I halted, removed my headphones from one ear, and asked, “Greg?” thinking he might be my friend. He was! We entered the shop and sat to draw up his character. This took a couple of hours, because I made sure he read everything he needed to be familiar with.

When we finished with his character creation, I invited him to my home to go to HeroForge to create an image of his character. This took maybe another thirty to forty-five minutes.

After all that, I needed some time for my mind to cool down so to speak, so I idled until I decided what to work on. Decided to start another rewrite of a stalled project. Stalled because I realized it had derailed from what I originally intended, and rewriting instead of cutting-and-fixing from an earlier point because the writing is not up to my current standards.

So that was my Tuesday!

Cutting Before It’s Done

I have something important to say:

It’s okay to cut an active project and rewrite.

While it’s much preferable for the story to be complete before doing this, I understand how, sometimes, the story stops working. When this happens to me, I can go on for a while, forcing scenes out, but I always hit a point where I must take a step back and ask myself, “Am I writing the correct story?”

If the answer is “no,” I cut from the point where I feel the story stopped meeting my expectations. This is usually a scene that I feel good about, and almost as often is the last scene I actually enjoyed writing.

Part of the reason why I push on is because I generally have a nice bit of outline built up and I really don’t want to rework it at all. I don’t want to do all that work. I don’t wan to scrap any of it, no matter how far off the plot I know the thing diverges.

However, I eventually reach a point where I avoid the story, which is rather difficult if my creative mind is focused on it (the other reason why I force out scenes that don’t fit). I’m dissatisfied with the story for some reason, and most of the time it’s because I feel like I’m not “capturing” the essence of the scenes I feel are necessary for making the story the best it can be.

The scenes meander. They don’t do multiple jobs—rarely do even one job. They’re fluff. They’re distractions from the heart of the story.

I did this with Brotherhood A: Stirrings-needs-a-better-title. I wrote beyond the point where I felt uncomfortable with the project and stopped. Avoided it for a few days. When I went back and looked at it, I saw the wordcount was already close to what I expected the book to have—and I was maybe two-thirds done with the outline, when I needed to be much closer to the final card. Sick, I didn’t look at it again for a few more days, then I came back and read through it looking for the best place to cut it. When I found that spot, I lopped off the bloated, meandering writing and pasted it into its own file.

After that, I felt much better.

See, I had gotten blocked. I couldn’t write any more on it because of my deep dissatisfaction with what I already had. Granted, it helped me figure out a great deal of the middle, so when I cut and redid the outline, I had a much better idea of what I wanted, but it didn’t fit. And I don’t consider that writing I’d done as wasted. No writing is ever wasted. This bloat served to identify thin bits of plotting and characterization, which I then filled in with the new outline and writing.

I know the going “rule” is that something should be written all the way through before rewriting commences. However, my creative mind has never worked this way. Back in the 90’s, when I was doing most of my learning, the majority of that learning consisted of me getting blocked because I disliked my writing for some reason. At first, I tried to push through, but that didn’t work. Then I simply abandoned the projects, because I couldn’t see how to get them out of the pits I’d written into them and written them into. Toward the end of the 90’s, I figured out that I needed to rewrite those projects, and I started finishing things.

Yes, I’d come across the “finish first, then rewrite/edit” rule by then, but it clearly did not work for me, so I had to try something else. Cutting at the last good point in the project and rewriting, even if the story isn’t already complete, is what works for me.

So if you’re struggling to complete works because what you have no longer matches the vision in your head or outlined, go ahead and consider cutting an in-progress project. It may not work. However, it could, so it’s perfectly fine to try. Don’t let anyone tell you that’s the wrong way to write, because in writing, as in so much in life, there is no “one true way.” Part of writing is learning what works for you, so even something like this should be tried if you can’t get the story to go any other way.

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