How to Edit Your Story Using Fillers

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When I write a book, there are chapters that end up being shorter than what I need them to be. Usually, I write my first draft on pen and paper and transcribe it into a word processor. Pen and paper eliminates spending a whole day editing a few paragraphs around and not making more progress on your story (that’s something I call Editing Syndrome). It also eliminates the millions (okay, maybe just thousands) of distractions that come with a computer.

When I revise my story, I use a word processor – usually. There are times it is good to use real ink even when revising a story. If you realize that a chapter is too short or that you need to add a scene somewhere, going back to ink and paper is generally the best way to construct your scene.

I did this just today, and it worked!

The only steps you have to do is 1) plan where you are going to insert the new scene and edit the text accordingly for it. 2) Write the scene using pen and paper. 3) Transcribe it into the word processor where you are supposed to insert the text. 4) Read the new version and revise to make everything flow.

It’s really that simple. Try it for yourself.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Gain Insight in Writing

As in everything, a good writer must learn insight in writing. An author must be able to look at his/her writing and pretty much instinctively be able to know what is wrong with it and how to change it.

Yet, how do authors learn this skill? Are we superhuman? Is there a learning curve?

If you are a new author, then understand this: We have all been where you are at right now. No one can write a perfect first book. What’s more: Not even a professional can write a perfect first draft. However, over time, we learn how to identify our mistakes. We approach writing as a process. Just as an athlete doesn’t do a high dive or a marathon without first warming up his muscles, so also an author doesn’t plunge through a book without warming up his “pen”. We gain inspiration and research. We compile reference material. And, we work through an outline. We recognize that each stage in the writing process is building our final work, yet none of it will be our final vision until the final draft is edited. And even then, we learn to release our work to the public even though we know there is more that could be done with it. Any project can always have more done to it.

Gaining insight is more than just practicing writing. It’s doing something over and over again that we have a love for. Every writer loves to write. Every storyteller (like myself) loves to create a new story and work through all the stages to complete it as we originally envisioned it to be.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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How to Eliminate Boredom from Your First Draft?

In my painful experiences, I have learned that the number 1 problem with creating a first draft of a story (more often than not) is pushing away boredom from the actual process of writing. If you’ve done all your homework correctly, then you have a pretty good idea of the scenes you want to write and have even created an outline of your story. You’ve gathered reference material and have dozens of imagined images in your head of various story scenes. You even have stories that stimulate your imagination, schedules that show you don’t have to write everything at once, and you’ve even gone the extra mile in finding a place to write where you will not be distracted.

Yet, when you sit down to write, you want to do anything but write. You check the news first, your email first, your work project first, your book reading first, your marketing work first, your workout first, your house chores first – ANYTHING – just to keep away from drafting your story. When you do start drafting, you write a little bit and then feel tired of it.

For me, the second draft is always MUCH more invigorating. That’s when the excitement really begins. The best part about the first draft is beginning the first chapter. Finding the right beginning is a thrill. Then, the slogging begins from there and only seems to worsen until the very last few pages of your story.

I wish I could give a less glaring solution to this problem, but sometimes, the most glaring solution actually is the right one.

WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT QUICKLY

Don’t become discouraged, and don’t edit even one sentence until it is finished. Just write it out. Let your story take whatever form it can from all the material you have gathered previously about it. Then, when you revise it, you can truly make your story better than what you originally envisioned.

Here’s the other clincher tip: Writing a first draft can be a lot like running. When you run, the goal is to think of anything else but running. Let your mind think about the finish line, about the great distance you’ve covered, about the trees or scenery around you, about the story you were reading the previous night, about the comfort of your running shoes, etc. Many times, when you are actually doing the writing, it’s best to be thinking about anything but trying to force the words. You have to think about what’s next in the story, but then let your mind think about the great number of pages you’ve written, the way the ink rolls onto the page or the way the cursor flashes (I write most of my first drafts with pen and paper), about the sounds you can here in the background, etc. Just make certain that all along, more words of your story are being written.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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Have You Made These Mistakes in Your Novel

The first thing I want you to know is this: The problems you are having with your novel are not unique to you, and I’ve been there myself.

Let me describe your unfinished novel: It’s unfinished. And it’s been unfinished for years. Or maybe, you’re new to writing stories, and you have just started. That’s great! However, your novel still isn’t finished (because you’ve only begun). Maybe, you’ve published several novels and are only wanting to see how someone else does it. Welcome aboard!

However, your current novel is still unfinished. You cannot seem to make headway with the storyline. Your characters are un-relatable to you and therefore will be un-relatable to your readers. Your scenes cannot be pictured and are poorly described.

. . .not having these problems? That’s wonderful! You’re above the average storyteller. However, for most of us (even for professionals), writing stories can be hard. It’s irritating because we know we had the BEST novel idea when we started, but as the story progresses, it doesn’t measure up to our vision. It doesn’t measure up to your vision. You had the best inspired image in your mind, but developing it onto paper can be hard.

The hardest part is merely beginning – every day, sitting down with pen and paper (or a word-processor) and beginning. Re-starting your story at a different point every . . . single . . . day.

This is my end point for today: In order to write your novel, you need to write, even if you feel like you are only restarting your book in a different sentence, a different paragraph, a different chapter. Thus is the difficulty with the first draft. It’s difficult, and that’s OKAY! Your first draft is your “junk draft”. It will not be good. Yet, be satisfied with it. Get through it as quickly as you can. Then, you can revise it. Even professionals don’t like their first draft. Yet, we learn to take some thrills from it. We enjoy writing it even though we know it needs improvement. The principle, though, is to write it. Don’t shelve it! Get it written, and I guarantee you, you’ll want to revise it until you have a finished manuscript.

Need some more free pointers? Read my Writing Methodology Checklist you receive when you fill out the form by clicking the button at the bottom of this post!

Patching up a novel can be difficult. Writing a first draft can be difficult. Developing a story can be difficult. In posts to come, I plan to discuss more about Writing Imagination Academy. Go to my home page to see how much time is left before my next course, and apply today!

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

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