About Me

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I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Monday, 30 January 2012

Raw Talent vs. Editing

Is that a valid question? Not exactly a question, but you know what I mean. I've been thinking about my Nano novel, and Nano in general, and I know that the point of the thing is just to write, with the presupposition that you'd edit whatever you came out with afterwards. 
But I'm looking at what I have of this novel and my other Teen Fiction novel which, may I note, I have been working on for years. Comparatively, the older one is a million times better in terms of writing style, pace, voice and wording. I guess it wouldn't take a genius to work that much out, because obviously I have been working on  it for a lot longer than the Nano one. 

My point is due. I have several. I have put literally hundreds of layers of editing and rewriting into the older novel, and goodness knows how much time. I'd like to think I have really grown as a writer since I set out with that project, especially looking at the initial drafts of first chapters and comparing them to what I have now. 
However, I'm looking at what I've come out with for Nano (The Poison Maiden), and it makes me blush because it doesn't look good at all. I will, of course, add the word 'Yet' to the end of that sentence. 

But that's my point. Does it make one a bad writer if it's only in the editing that the writing becomes good?

The Netbook I have my eye on...

I've been thinking a lot about this, and while in my most pessimistic of states, I have thought that the amount of editing I have needed proves that to be the case. But I'm picking myself up on it, because actually, I don't quite believe that. While there are some writers out there with raw talent, who can whip something great up in a matter of minutes, I don't think even they would consider their work finished without at least a little tweaking. 
And I think it's all a matter of how you work; I used to take a lot of time over my first drafts, labouring over how each sentence sounded. I began to realise, though, that I was not getting very far this way. And actually, I enjoy the process of editing, going back to a piece of writing and reworking the words. 
So just because this Nano way of writing is entirely new to me, doesn't make it a bad thing. I think that if I keep on with it, resisting editing and getting the story and the world down, yes I will have a big task to edit through it and put all those layers of fine tooth combing, but actually, isn't that what it's all about? 

Writing isn't easy, well, good writing, that is. Good writing takes time, and lots and lots of revisiting. If I learned anything at Uni, I learned that. 

3. Put time into my work.

What do you think?


  1. Editing is just as much part of being a good writer as the first draft. Even the best actors have to rehearse don't they? Even if they've been acting for decades, each new play or film requires rehearsal - they can't just do it perfectly first time because they've acted in other stuff before. I'm not sure if that's a workable analogy or not but you know what I mean!

    I am writing a proper first draft of the rough outline of a novel I did for NaNo and I was finding it really depressing for the same reason you've outlined. Then a blogging friend of mine, Andy, said that he was taught that the good sentences come in the 3rd or 4th draft. The first draft isn't about good writing, it's about plotting and getting to know your characters.

    Remember, even when (not if!) it's good enough to find a publisher, they'll probably still edit it even further. Keep at it!

  2. I agree with everything that Chloe has said. However,you have a good point about raw talent. Rawness needs to be considered in the editing. Last year I did a post on my blog comparing writing to impressionist painting. A less is more theory. The French Impressionists were perhaps too raw by Royal Academy standards to be accepted as serious art, compared to say Constable or Gainsborough, who went to great lengths to produce near photographic representations of the landscape or portrait they portray. The impressionists worked on a limited pallette of colour with minimum brush strokes... raw talent. Raw implies this is what's happening to me as a writer, I am having this experience in my head right now. On subsequent drafts, the experience that I as a writer had in the first draft is no longer new and because I've had that experience and I know what will happen there is a danger that my writing may take a more reflective tone. Also I think in the first draft, as I get it down on paper no matter what typos, or grammatical errors that can be edited out later, I have found there is a rhythm to that first draft. I can't explain it but I most definitely feel it. It just feels right. On my current project, I didn't feel the rhythm until chapter three. I read back chapter one and two and I could see it wasn't there. Editing could take away that rhythm. For me editing should be about removing all the defects. Typos, clichés, inconsistencies and excessive exposition. For me editing is removing not embellishing or adding something new. I am rewriting at the moment, and have had to add new characters on the advice of members of the writing circle I go to. There was no other way for me other than a complete rewrite to maintain the pace and freshness that should go with new writing. From what you said in your last post Nari, I can see you research really well, and know more about your subject than you need to write which will give your plot and your characters more depth, i.e. they would stand up to question. Knowing as much as you do before you write will give you the pace and the clarity which you describe as rawness. I am sending this without editing, so please excuse any errors. I just wanted to keep it raw for you :-)

  3. I think it's the final result that matters, no matter how many times you've redrafted.

    Great post, Nari. Very thought provoking.


  4. thanks for comments everyone. You're all right - the editing is an important process, but I do agree with you, John, that soe of the freshness/rawness does need to be remembered.
    Nari X