i'm at the stage again where i have too much stuff in my drafts

anonymous asked:

So I was working on a fic, stopped about a year ago because of an issue I was having; I'm basically going through the events of the game and I don't know how to make it more interesting. I'm worried about pacing, making things go too fast or too slow, not having enough going on between fights/plot points to warrant enough time between them. I don't want to go too fast or too slow. Do you have any advice? (I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself well)

You’re explaining yourself just fine, love!  I understand this feeling >.<  I’m always hyperaware of pacing, and it can really harm my first-draft productivity!  But it’s always for the same reason for me, and knowing that reason helps me to solve the problem.

Why Your Story Feels Too Fast

There are a few different reasons a story may come off as too fast – like your characters are teleporting from scene to scene, from emotion to emotion, with no real continuity or meat in between the Big Moments.  Some common problems include:

  1. There isn’t enough plot.  When you start a draft with too vague an idea of what you’re writing, it can create a checklist effect: you look at your outline and use it as a map, but don’t have any idea what happens in between.  That’s like going on a road trip with your car windows blacked out!  You only know what’s happening when you get out of the car – not how you got there or where you’re going next.  It’s disorienting for the reader, and pretty boring.
    Solution: Look to your characters.  They’re going to be the source of all plots, because they’re the ones calling the shots and changing the story.  Develop their personalities – their pasts and their goals and their conflicts and their own individual plots.  Then work out how all these characters fit together; ask yourself why these particular characters were hand-chosen to tell this story.  Once you transform your characters into people with lives, they aren’t as easily stowed in the toybox between plot points.
  2. There’s too much plot.  I know, I’m contradicting myself, but these are both possible reasons for this racing-through-the-plot feeling.  Your story should be like a vacation – well-planned, so you don’t just sit on the couch all day, but still maintaining breathing room.  If you stuff the story with too many subplots, conflicts, backstories, romances, and character arcs, there’s no room for anything natural to take place or change the plot.
    Solution: Take stock of your plots/subplots and decide which ones you really want.  Which plots fit your story’s theme, message, and pacing?  Which plots are unique, enjoyable, and inspire empathy in readers?  Which plots are you writing because you want them, not because you feel obligated to add them in (*cough* needless love triangles *cough*)?  Which plots feel natural and realistic for your characters?  Whichever of your plots don’t fit these categories… detach from them.  Throw them into the ocean.  Change your name, dye your hair, and run to Mexico before they can catch you.  Whatever it takes.
  3. Your scenes are too short or long.  Again, two ends of the spectrum: if your scenes are too short, you may be lacking some dialogue, character-building moments, or lasting/realistic conflict.  If your scenes are too long, you may be exhausting certain plot points, winding up with such long chapters that you can’t fit the non-climactic scenes.  Both tendencies can stem from weak chapter arcs (hook, meat, resolution, and hook for the next chapter) or a lack of development/confidence in your storytelling voice.
    Solution: Take some extra time to plan your chapters out – try to develop a more-or-less uniform chapter structure.  If you find that no matter how structured your chapters are, they still come out too long or short, you may want to assess your author voice for lacking or having an excess of dialogue/description.
  4. Your fictional timeline isn’t working.  I’ve been guilty of this time and time again – planning a story spanning three months, then wanting to add in characters getting married or graduating college or taking down a dictatorship, until three months just isn’t feasible anymore.
    Solution: Decide which plot is the most important to you, and base the timeline around that. It may mean having to let some good subplots go, but in the end, a cohesive story is the more important victory.  Otherwise, your readers will get lost, and every plot will suffer.
  5. You’re unconfident in either your main plot or your filler.  If you feel uncomfortable with the plot itself, you may throw all your chapters into advancing it, because you want to prove and improve it.  If you feel uncomfortable with writing filler scenes, you may drive the plot forward in order to avoid filler.  Neither of these is a matter of personal style.  As writers, we are both the playwrights and the actors – we have to create a solid plot, and then go up on stage and add the flair and make the jokes and draw people in.  We don’t get the option of being one or the other.  We have to be both the cast and the crew, the architect and the realtor, the main course and the side dishes and the whole Thanksgiving feast.
    Solution: Get comfortable with it, as soon as possible; and that means you need to write.  Go ahead and write the plot, and write the filler, and even if you think it all sucks, keep it in there.  Write all the way through the first draft until the story is out and you’ve gotten some practice.  Then go back, use that knowledge, and rewrite/edit those awkward scenes where you didn’t know what you were doing.  Practice will make it better, I promise.

Of course, your problem may be something entirely different, so you can message me again with more information if you need!  I’ll gladly take your question :)

But I hope this did help you and anyone else struggling with this!  Thanks again, and happy writing <3

If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask me!

on editing & repetition;

i’m such a firm believer in the shit first draft. i used to be one of those people who would madly edit as i went and labour for hours over one sentence, just to get it right. spoilers: that is a waste of everyone’s time. the trick to writing is becoming good at editing, but like, in that order, editing after you’ve written it. it can be hard to know where to start with editing, so i’ve written up this post on what i consider to be the first step in a successful self-edit.*

here’s what i do: ctrl+f. this might seem like a weird, slightly obvious thing, but one of the biggest problems with underdeveloped writing is excessive repetition. there are some words you can only use once in an entire novel, and some words that carry less weight but which you wind up using too much anyway. the real trick to a first draft is to stop giving a stuff about repetition. then, ctrl+f.

my biggest plague word is just. i’ve already used it once in this post. the first thing i do when i finish something is to search for instances of the word just and delete/rephrase every second one or so. i allow myself to keep it when it’s absolutely necessary to the meaning of the clause, but that’s about as far as i’m willing to push it.

here are a few words to look for in this first stage of repetition-fixing:

  • adverbs: the most common ones will be things like basically, actually, suddenly, really, very… but if you want to do a quick check for any words ending in -ly, that helps too.**
  • unusual conjunctions: it’s perfectly fine to use a lot of and, but but needs to be kept in check. too many negative clauses can break immersion! similarly for so, also, although, still, etc.
  • swearing. (and this is coming from someone who swears like a sailor IRL.) as with any strong and emotive language, it has more power when you hold it back and only use it for similarly emotive occasions.
  • any phrases you know you use a lot.

once that’s done, reread the work. the moment you find a word that carries a lot of weight, or a phrase that sounds incredible to you, ctrl+f it. because if you’re having that thought now, chances are you’ve had it before, and you’ve used that word or phrase more than once within the work. when something stands out to you that much, it’s worth saving it up for a special occasion.

there are a few other subtle things worth looking out for in terms of repetition, which i’ll list quickly:

  • overusing character names when pronouns will suffice, i.e. “It was still dark when Bob’s alarm went off. Bob was so tired that he had to physically force his eyes open.” that second Bob can easily be a he and no-one will get confused!
  • italics for emphasis. while you’re in the midst of writing, it may seem like you need to remind your reader that certain words will be stressed in a sentence, but it’s more likely that your reader will understand that intuitively. save italics for moments of heightened emotion and humour.
  • similar sentence structure. if you have two sentences in a row that look the same, like this: “Bob’s alarm went off, but it was still dark outside. He was unbelievably tired, since he’d stayed up too late the night before.” … then change the structure of one of them! experiment with moving clauses around until you get enough variation. this helps hold your readers’ interest, and maintains flow so that your writing doesn’t get too clunky.

there! now you’ve got a cursorily-edited first draft, just (oh, yikes, there i go) by focusing on one issue at a time. at this stage, you can go back and read it again (yes, again!) and see where you might be able to use repetition as a powerful device to draw attention to a particular concept, or to create emotion or humour.

one more thing: i started this off by cautioning against editing as you go. but when you start becoming aware of repetition, and your own personal plague words/phrases, you’ll start doing all of this like second nature. but that doesn’t mean you should stop using ctrl+f!


* obviously once you’ve done a self-edit, a good idea is to send your work off to a beta reader/critique partner. they’ll pick up on anything you might’ve missed, as well as talk you through bigger issues than are covered in this post.

** my general stance on adverbs is that they should be used sparingly (which is an adverb :P), except for comedic emphasis, in which case adverbs will do a lot of the heavy lifting. (see above: physically forced, unbelievably tired.) as with everything that frames itself as a writing “rule,” don’t trust anyone who tells you never to use adverbs.

ivanprovolone  asked:

I need some more Kristanna and hockey! Maybe have Kristoff in the NHL or something and Anna dealing with him being gone a lot, I don't know I'm babbling and it's your ficlet haha. Slapshot was so cute by the way :)

Kristanna and hockey? Why, I could only do such a thing if my team scored a major shut-out tonight and had an amazing game… OH WAIT. ;)

(It ended up being a little more Kristoff/Elsa BrOTP and gen-ish than I’d planned, but Anna’s adorkableness more or less came out of the draft stage intact. :P)

“Equipment Malfunction”

(Kristanna, Kristoff/Elsa BrOTP, WC: 1,339, Rated: K+)

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