Questions and Answers: Editing
How old were you when you started writing?
When I was in second grade, I wrote and illustrated a story called "Marvin the Marry Mouse". It was a Christmas tale about a mouse whose older sister told him there was no Santa. He wrote a letter to Santa and then received bunch of presents. Character, conflict, resolution. It was drawn on tracing paper in blue pen while I was playing in the back patio of my grandparents' house. I continued to write from that point forward. Many of my stories featured cats, horses, and whatever I was obsessed with at the time (stickers, XMen, Littlest Pet Shop, Sailor Moon, Star Wars, etc...). When I was twelve I began writing original work.
Do you edit as you write? When I write I start with an idea, but get stuck looking for the correct words.
No, I do not try to edit on the first draft. For me, writing is this mad dash to grab everything that is falling out of my brain. I focus on the dialog and conflict first. Without conflict, there is no story. In the first run there is usually some bits of setting, but the character interaction is paramount. On the second run through I begin to fill out setting and fix spelling and grammar. I lose track of the amount of times I edit as I'm ironing story.
Do you use any special software as you write?
I keep track of the story with Excel spreadsheets. I have editing checklists to help me look out for problems like overuse of pronouns, forgetting to describe setting, and comma splices (I swear I'm mending my ways!). I like to print out my spreadsheets and check-off sections as I move along. As far as writing goes I use plain old MS Word. Sometimes I will capture chapters in Google Docs if I don't have my writing laptop with me.
Do you have any trouble deleting chapters that just don't fit?
I don't get overly attached to chapters because I don't permanently delete anything. I have documents of story scraps. I haven't thrown out a single bit of Centernia since 1997. Story that's meant to be a part of the story has a tendency to bubble back up. I may delete something, but then that bit of dialog reappears months later in a different chapter. Some days it seems as if the story writes itself and my job is simply to record it. :-)
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