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Does your writing suck?

Chris Podhola

It's a question every author asks himself after every session of writing. We are constant self-doubters. We second-guess everything we put to paper (well, most of us do. The rest, should).

The truth is, your writing is supposed to suck. At least during the rough draft phase. That's what rough drafts are for. That is why they are called 'rough' drafts. You sit down with pen and paper, or with your laptop propped in your lap underneath a tree, pouring every thought that runs through your head with no filter. If it pops into your pretty little head (reserved for the ladies), you commit it to the document. You don't discern good from bad. That's what the editing phase is for.

So, yes. In the beginning, your writing does suck. It's supposed to.

It's what you do after the rough draft phase that matters most. If you simply take your garbage, pick out a few maggots and send it out to the caterer, then in all likely hood the wedding party is going to vomit the moment they step up to the buffet line. Proofreading is not editing. Editing your work is just as important as writing it in the first place was, so if you don't take that seriously, your writing will still suck when you get it to your readers. They will most assuredly barf it back up. Some readers will be nice and if you're still in the free marketplace, you will likely get nice ratings, because readers in the free market pay you by giving you compliments. Even if they are overly generous. (You can still gauge your progress using sites like SOL. On SOL, for example, if your score remains below 8.00, you haven't brought your piece out of suckville. You have more work to do).

If your first round of editing doesn't have enough red ink to alarm you, then you've done it wrong. No matter how skilled a writer you believe yourself to be, massive amounts of red ink after that first round of editing is key to knowing you've taken your writing out from suckville and put it into the neighborhood of 'maybe I can stop sweating so much'.

You have to question every decision you've made. You have to put your analytical mind to work, questioning every word of dialog. You have to ask yourself if your characters are interesting enough, or if you ever bothered to bring them out of cardboard city. Did you develop some theme that you were previously unaware of? Do your scenes flow and compliment each other? Do your climactic points ebb and flow? Have your offered too little description, or did you go overboard to the point that your readers will skip pages? Are there scenes that should be cut and others added? Did you let a character live that needed to die a long time before? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before going on to the next round of editing and you should have scribbles in your sidebars, giving yourself instructions, taking notes, sharpening your story.

Usually, during a first round of editing, I end up changing as much as twenty percent of my word count, deleting ten thousand words of text in a fifty-thousand-word story and adding ten-thousand new words. Better words (hopefully).

The second round of editing isn't so intensive but it is still serious. I focus more on flow and wording, making sure I am concise where I should be and elaborative only in the places where I can get away with it. It's where I kill most of my darlings; those cute little phrases I throw in just to try to sound smart. Those definitely have to go. I'm not there to sound smart. I'm there to tell a story.

Then there is the final round. This is the round where you focus on those commas and spelling blunders, where you toss your fishing line out, hooking those homophones and deciding if breaking the semicolon rule was such a good idea after all.

Only after this point, do you ever consider sending it to someone else for a second look.

Can you get away with skipping some or all of these steps? Sure. No author police will ever come knocking on your door with cuffs in their hands, but if you do skip these steps, you are only cheating yourself. I've learned much more about writing from editing my work than I have by doing anything else. When I write my rough drafts, my creative mind is in creative mode … not learning mode. When I edit, I am in a more logical place and my conscious mind is more involved. If you short-sell yourself by taking shortcuts in the editing mode, you will never reach your full potential as an author and your writing will ALWAYS suck.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

I question if my writing sucks all the time, and yes, editing is really important. I have three, and all come back with a stack of red ink (even the third guy, who is editing after two other editors get it, but they also each have a different specialty, which is why I have three).

Except for the times when my editors suggest adding or removing scenes information, I rarely go back and change huge sections of my writing for content (that doesn't count the massive changes for style, grammar, spelling, plot holes, etc etc my editors bring back).

I do however write very detailed chapter by chapter outlines of my story before ever writing a word, and have 2 of my editors review it and make notes/suggestions if I missed anything or if the flow is bad.

Do you do that step? Or do you just hit the page writing? Both are valid, just curious.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

I question if my writing sucks all the time, and yes, editing is really important. I have three, and all come back with a stack of red ink (even the third guy, who is editing after two other editors get it, but they also each have a different specialty, which is why I have three).


First, I highly recommend doing the bulk of your editing yourself. It's an important step to learning your craft. You can never expect your work to come back from an editor without red marks, but unless your editor is a true pro (someone who edits for a major publishing house), their marking should be relatively minor. Editing is where you truly improve your skills as a writer.

As an example, I recently went back and re-edited my first novel. When I first wrote this novel, I edited it five times consecutively, and then sent it to an editor, demanding that he go through it three more times. In the end, between the both of us, we tore it to shreds.

During this more recent round of editing that I just completed, I deleted 9,000 more words of useless text and I plan to do another round of editing, knowing full well that I still have work to do. I've learned so much over the past two years that I actually cringed as I reread that novel. I owe 100% of that increase in ability to rigorous editing that I've done myself. Yes. I still use editors, but I don't leave the heavy lifting to them. I do the heavy lifting, which allows them an easier time of finding flaws they may have missed if they were doing the bulky work.

As far as outlining goes, it depends on what genre I am writing. With erotica ... no. I am a pantser. When I write sci/fi, fantasy, or horror ... yes. I outline and I do send my outlines to my editor for thoughts first.

aubie56
Updated:

CP,

"for example, if your score remains below 8.00, you haven't brought your piece out of suckville. You have more work to do"

Just where do you get this number of 8.00? If it is the score from voting, then all of my 170+ stories on SOL must stink to high Heaven. However, most of the feedback I get is positive. How do you explain that?

I write for my own amusement and not for any sort of lasting literary recognition. Therefore, I have no interest in doing all of those editing steps that you and so many others push. If I had to do all of that crap-work, I would give up writing and go back to video games. As long as my work is good enough to amuse several thousand people per week, then I am happy with it and will not change, no matter what self-styled pundits might advise.

Please don't take this personally, but I am tired of seeing long and detailed exhortations on what I should be doing to write "Great Literature." I never outline on paper, but only generally plan in my head and let the story tell itself. That's what my readers appear to want. Etc., etc. I could go on for much more, but I know that you are already tired of my tirade.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@aubie56

If it is the score from voting, then all of my 170+ stories on SOL must stink to high Heaven. However, most of the feedback I get is positive. How do you explain that?


Well, first off, don't be offended by the term 'suckville'. Taking that term too literally would be a mistake. I get the number 8.00 based on my personal experience. I have submitted many stories to SOL that have scored below that number. The stories I've submitted that came in above it, were far superior to the ones that didn't 'cut the mustard'. The difference between the two, were editing choices. There were things I could have improved in the lower scoring stories, but didn't because my skill wasn't refined enough to see them.

I write for my own amusement and not for any sort of lasting literary recognition.


Then what are you worried about? As long as you are amused, what's the issue? Back when I only wrote for my own amusement and posted my stories either here or another site, I barely worried about editing at all.

The entire reason for this post is to help authors understand how to improve their writing. The best way you can do that (if it is important to you) is through editing. If you are satisfied with scores below 8.00 on SOL then don't put any effort into editing. If you want to improve those scores so they come in above 8.00, the way to do that is to edit more vigorously. It is a learning process and it will take time, but you CAN improve.

As far as how do I explain the positive feedback ... I'm sure it is genuine. Readers typically do not focus on the negative when the materials they are getting are supplied to them for free. They pat you on the back so that you will keep writing for them. Their feedback is genuine, but I have been where you are, kind sir. I can tell you from experience that I have received almost nothing but positive feedback throughout my years of submitting to sites like this, but I can also tell you that back in my hayday of submitting to these sites, I wasn't 1/10th of the writer I am now (not that I think that I have arrived. I learn new things every day and I improved vastly as time goes on).

So what does that say about all of the positive feedback I received when I was still in my earliest infancy as a writer?

All I'm saying is that writing is and will always be a growth experience and editing vigorously is your fastest route to getting there. This post wasn't about putting authors in their 'place'. It is about showing them how to get to where they want to be.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
richardshagrin

Do authors have to do their own editing, or can others do it for them?

Replies:   Chris Podhola  Lumpy
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Do authors have to do their own editing, or can others do it for them?


It depends on your goals as an author. If you are just doing this for fun and all you care about is having fun, then have others edit for you, make the changes they suggest and move on to the next story. Do whatever is fun for you. There is NOTHING wrong with writing just because you love doing it, with zero intention of every trying to publish in the professional marketplace.

If it is just a hobby, do it however you want to, so that you don't get frustrated and give up. Let the editors help you make the story as good as possible and move on to the next story.

If you want to learn and become the best writer possible, however, edit yourself and do so with all of your heart and mind present and then send it to your editors.

Lumpy

@richardshagrin

As chris said, you want to do both.

Before you send it to editors, you should read through your chapter (or story if you are having it edited as one piece) at least once, and probably twice. I guarantee you will find things you want to change.

And then, unless you are very very good at the technical aspects of writing, you need an outside editor.

If you outline you should also do re-reads of that before starting writing and have your editors give that a pass as well.

I actually have three editors. A proof-reader who is checking for technical editors, a full on editor who gives me my most red ink, and a beta reader who's suggestions are usually about flow, or something that was missed from the outline, etc.

Each also has personal expertise in areas my story hits. For instance, on was an engineer before retirement and the parts of my story that hit those topics he has been a great help with corrections and suggestions.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

Before you send it to editors, you should read through your chapter (or story if you are having it edited as one piece) at least once, and probably twice. I guarantee you will find things you want to change.


I don't feel that this is intensive enough. When I edit, I start with a read through, going through once without a pen in my hand, but that is just a refresher. Once I have finished the read through what I do is very slow, very analytical and extremely laborious. I read each paragraph and analyze everything about it, taking notes, making changes, leaving myself reminders. Read through, sounds too brief and too dismissive. You need to rip every word apart, questioning everything about it, eliminating any and every word that doesn't further the story.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

That's true, although I am not convinced the self editing process needs to be as thorough if you do a really in depth , scene by scene outlining process that goes through the same editing as you mentioned above. That's when I do most of my moving and shifting, thinking about flow and archs.

When it comes to the writing, it's just the words used and the dialogue that get scrutinized.

As a side note, and I am sure you didn't mean this but I want to clarify. I believe as many words should be used to move the character development as are used for moving the story forward. To many stories are all about the plot while the characters stay more or less stagnant.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
richardshagrin
Updated:

Writing is not that different from most construction projects. You get to select at most two from fast, cheap, and high quality. To produce lots of stories quickly as an objective is fast. Cheap is not doing a lot of agonizing over the story. Write it once, spell check it and submit. High quality can be what other posts on this topic indicate, and even more, including adding others to the rewrite/proofread/edit cycle. Fast and high quality conflict as paying out more for speed or using particularly skilled contractors or more workers is not really an option. You can audition lots of different editors, etc to find the ones you work with best who have skills you may lack. Not doing so compares with cheap.

You don't have to have two of the three, some effort keeping an eye on the construction is required to get even one. And incomplete structures are found on SOL with the yellow band of shame.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Lumpy


That's true, although I am not convinced the self editing process needs to be as thorough if you do a really in depth , scene by scene outlining process that goes through the same editing as you mentioned above. That's when I do most of my moving and shifting, thinking about flow and archs.


That is potentially true, I guess. Even with the stories I do outline, the outlines aren't more than generalized, so if your outlines were accurate enough it would eliminate many of the potential changes. But make no mistake about it, if your rough drafts are written from the place they should be (creative) there should be plenty of things for the analytical mind to catch and in a sense, your rough draft then becomes your outline and that's where the editing improvements would originally be made. This would make your manuscript your second round of editing and not your first. The principals I'm outlining still apply to you, just in a different form.

And yes, characters (especially main characters) should experience changes by the end of the story. If they don't change, you don't have an effective story (It could be the community around that changes).

Switch Blayde

@Chris Podhola

If you want to improve those scores so they come in above 8.00, the way to do that is to edit more vigorously.


If you believe that, you don't understand how people on SOL vote.

Replies:   Lumpy  Chris Podhola
Lumpy

@Switch Blayde

He isn't entirely wrong. I have found that most stories below 7.5 have some editing problems, and most stories I have read below 7 are somewhat difficult to read because of poor or no editing.

Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

If you believe that, you don't understand how people on SOL vote.


I more than just believe this. I have written stories for SOL for many years, under numerous pen names and I have proven it (to myself) a dozen times over. If you are struggling with scores lower than 8.00, vigorous editing can overcome that barrier.

Switch Blayde

@Chris Podhola

I more than just believe this. I have written stories for SOL for many years, under numerous pen names and I have proven it (to myself) a dozen times over. If you are struggling with scores lower than 8.00, vigorous editing can overcome that barrier.


I'm not struggling with low scores. But I am an edit freak, spending more time editing than writing.

My comment was directed towards the high scored stories that are horrendously written. Readers on SOL don't seem to mind. That was why I said editing wasn't the key to get your story above 8.0.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


high scored stories that are horrendously written.


I assure you, sir, as your skill as an author improves, so will your scores. SOL readers are like any other readers on the planet. They base their scores on their emotional attachment to the story they are reading. Editing, as I've pointed out before, is about more than just making sure you catch all of the spelling errors, grammatical flaws etc. It is making sure your plot is rich, your characters are believable, likable and interesting, that your dialog is realistic and catchy, and too many other things to name in this reply.

If you don't already do this, make sure you spend a little time every day reading books written by successful authors regarding editing topics. Books like Plot and Structure written by James Scott Bell, How to write Dazzling Dialog by the same author, Kick Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig and well ... you get the picture.

As you become a better writer, higher scores will come easier. I'm sure CW will back me up on this. His average scores now seem to be higher than they were six months ago.

(And if you are not struggling with scores, why argue the point. You already know this then). Don't worry about what other authors are doing or not doing, how readers do or don't score other stories. Just write the best damn stories you can write, look to others to learn in a positive light and truck like your tailgate is on fire.

Dominions Son

@Chris Podhola

If you are struggling with scores lower than 8.00, vigorous editing can overcome that barrier.


Maybe if you have scores in the 7 range, better editing will get you over 8. I rather doubt better editing would help that much with a story scoring under 6.5

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Dominions Son

I don't know. A lot of stories I read that were in the 6-7 range, most of the the idea behind the story was fine, but there were a lot of errors (way more than in books that scored in the 7 range) and the authors relied on a crutch (kept using the same phrases over and over. Sub plots getting recycled in the same story, stuff like that).

Most of that could have been fixed by an editor.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
richardshagrin
Updated:

My theory, with at least some support for what I give a C grade to is that average stories get a six. LaZeez set up the scoring system to report scores that way. The USA school system uses letter grades. A is excellent, B is good and C is average. There is more variety on the rest of the alphabet. But when I grew up D was poor but passing and either E or F were failing, and you needed to retake the course if it were a requirement for graduation. Some places had both E and F to indicate how bad your failure was.

Another concept in selecting high and low scores and who is in the middle is the normal curve, which is described by its mean and standard deviation. Approximately two thirds of all scores in a normal curve are within one standard deviation of the mean. The rest of the distribution is evenly split above and below one standard deviation from the mean.

My theory is that SOL's mean is six and the standard deviation is one, so that a seven is a B and an eight is an A. There are a few, very few compared to 37,400 plus stories on the site, that get a nine or higher. Those are A plus. The fives are a D. Below 5 is either an E or an F. There are only a few percent of the stories (remember one percent is 374 stories) above eight or below five. Due to the way voting is done there may be some skewing to the normal curve to give more high scores than low ones. Nevertheless, when I review that's how I call them as I see them. An A (eight plus) is excellent. B (seven or more but not quite an eight) is good. The average story may be worth reading, particularly if something about the story line or the tags appeals to you. Some interesting stories get one-bombed by some voters when they don't like the theme, to discourage authors from writing stories like that. A relatively small percentage of the highest and lowest scores get omitted when calculating the average scores, and then the averages get adjusted by Management to fit the distribution they think best.

Why do I think the standard deviation is one? It helps me decide where to break the scores between C and B and B and A. Its very probable I am wrong. He was wrong, dead wrong as he sped along, but just as dead if were right. Lets look at that, about driving a yacht in front of a tanker or container ship. Oh yeah, it goes, he was right, dead right as he sped along, but just as dead as if he'd been wrong. I told you I am wrong a lot, but convinced, either way.

Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

I don't know. A lot of stories I read that were in the 6-7 range, most of the the idea behind the story was fine, but there were a lot of errors (way more than in books that scored in the 7 range) and the authors relied on a crutch (kept using the same phrases over and over. Sub plots getting recycled in the same story, stuff like that).

Most of that could have been fixed by an editor.


Okay, so ... I feel like the original intent of this post was lost somewhere along the way.

I never intended to leave the impression that this was about how a story could be improved, or by how much a story could be improved, but rather how much the author of a story can improve by editing his own works. That is to say that an author who commonly submits stories that score in the six or seven range, could eventually become an author whose stories scored in the eight range. The way to do that being vigorous editing, improving his knowledge, and skill with words to that point over time and cutting the time it takes to get to that point severely, because more is learned through editing than is learned through writing by itself.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

OK, I'm coming to the discussion a little late, but ...

Yes, I agree on the need for editing, but to suggest the only difference between successful and unsuccessful stories is 'more editing' is a little simplistic. As is suggesting that ALL stories with a score below 8.0 suck! Heck, it's only the the last two revisions of Lazeez's scoring system that I've had any stories scoring 8s! Scores aren't a static number, and they float up and down based on software revisions, other stories and unrelated economic factors. You can't pin it ALL on poor editing.

As you say, Chris, editing isn't necessary if you're writing for fun. But more than that, I see it as a sign of an author's intent. If an author is serious about their craft, they'll be the best job they can, which means they'll learn all they can, and continually refine their techniques. It's a matter of simple professional pride. Would you want any Joe off the street to do your plumbing, or do you want someone who triple checks their work, cleans up after themselves, and responds to consumer complaints. The same concerns affects authors too.

Lumpy, I've never created a plot outline. However, I'll sit on a story, trying to figure out how to resolve issues for months before I ever write a word of a story. I'll outline plot points (in Notepad), but I'll let the story change and adapt over time. But my main concern is with flow, pacing, consistency, logic and whether the story makes sense. Those aren't things you can outline, and that's where I spend the majority of my time working. But, instead of working, I'll sit back, focus on something else, and let the ideas percolate in my head until the story ripens. Once it does, the story essentially tells itself.

Finally, Chris, I'd like to pick your brain. I've always had problems self-editing, mainly because I've never been trained how to cut material out. Part of that is my storytelling, where I have multiple competing subplots and competing characters (editing corporate reports is child's play compared to slicing and dicing a serial novel). I'll also add, suggesting everyone hire a professional editor is easy to say when you write short stories. I've been trying for some time to hire a pro, but because I write longer stories, the price has fluctuated from $4,000 to $3,400 and now to $2,700. For a story where you're unlikely to earn that back, those are steep prices.

Chase Shivers

@Crumbly Writer

Once it does, the story essentially tells itself.


I like the way you put that, CW. That's how I know when my efforts are happening at the right time. If the story unfolds as I pound on the keyboard, if the characters 'tell me' what happens next, if I let the world dictate to me what to write, it turns out much better than applying a pre-designed formula to the story and characters.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Yes, I agree on the need for editing, but to suggest the only difference between successful and unsuccessful stories is 'more editing' is a little simplistic. As is suggesting that ALL stories with a score below 8.0 suck! Heck, it's only the the last two revisions of Lazeez's scoring system that I've had any stories scoring 8s! Scores aren't a static number, and they float up and down based on software revisions, other stories and unrelated economic factors. You can't pin it ALL on poor editing.


Once again, I think we miss the point here. I've had enough conversations with you to know that you are as rigorous with your editing as I am and your quality of writing is also very good. My suggestion here is that you wouldn't be half the writer you are today if you didn't put so much effort into your editing.

And I stand by my earlier statement. I am not the originator of the philosophy that 'rough drafts are meant to suck'. As a matter of fact this is a standard industry belief. So, if your rough drafts are meant to 'suck' and you never take the time to edit your rough draft then your final draft will 'suck' as much as your rough draft did.

This is basic common sense.

As far as your editing question goes. You are stuck for now with your own editing skills. I am a proponent of writing for profit means writing for profit. If you were a lawyer with the funds available to splurge on editing, I'd say spend the money because it may just pay off. I happen to know you well enough to understand that this isn't any more an option for you than it is for me (I do not hire an industry pro to edit for me. I pay an amateur editor with some decent editing skill. He works relatively inexpensively). What I suggest in place of that is taking the time to study editing. There are many truly brilliant authors out there who commonly write books on the subject of (true) editing. James Scott Bell is one such author but there are many many more. If you want more specific suggestions, I have studied quite a number of these and I can offer more suggestions of very good books that teach authors how to edit properly. The content in these books is priceless.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I've always had problems self-editing, mainly because I've never been trained how to cut material out.


Crumbly, there are two things to cut. One is large chunks of narrative and/or dialogue that don't add anything to the story (the typical line is "if it doesn't move the plot forward, delete it." But it's more than that). If you don't catch it, a good beta reader will. How? They'll skim it.

The second is extra words. The author should catch these easily. Words like "very," "that," "of," "just" and so on most of the time aren't needed. Then there are pairs of words that mean the same thing, such as "huge giant." And then there's a more difficult one to catch -- when you both show and then tell because you don't trust the reader to get the "showing."

A long time ago you sent me an email with corrections an editor made (you were interviewing him). If you still have it, review it. He didn't correct typos. He deleted extra stuff that wasn't needed and made the sentence/paragraph stronger without it.

I'm an edit nut. I easily spend a hundred times more hours editing than writing. I edit while I write. When I continue writing something new, I read from the beginning of the short story or chapter I'm working on. When I get to the end I continue writing. Often I never get to the end because I spend all my time editing. Many people say that's a bad thing because creative writing and editing use different parts of the brain, but Ernest Hemingway did it that way.

And when the story is done, I edit it again and again from beginning to end until the changes I make are insignificant.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Crumbly, there are two things to cut. One is large chunks of narrative and/or dialogue that don't add anything to the story (the typical line is "if it doesn't move the plot forward, delete it." But it's more than that). If you don't catch it, a good beta reader will. How? They'll skim it.

The second is extra words. The author should catch these easily. Words like "very," "that," "of," "just" and so on most of the time aren't needed. Then there are pairs of words that mean the same thing, such as "huge giant." And then there's a more difficult one to catch -- when you both show and then tell because you don't trust the reader to get the "showing."


CW,
As someone who has read portions of your more recent work, I can tell you that most of this advice does not apply to your work, nor do I believe it reflects an answer to what you were asking. I think (if deletions are necessary in your stories) they are more complicated than this, which is why I referred you to works governing the practices of editing, written by skilled authors.

richardshagrin

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes it isn't. Sadly, or perhaps happily, it is your decision to accept or reject the editor's suggestions. If they are commands, you need to work on your relationship with the editor.

Here is an edit of "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

"Time and fruit flies like an arrow and a banana."

The edit is shorter and most of the words are the same, but the reason for the dichotomy is lost, it seems to me. The different meanings of flies and like aren't highlighted. Please reject this kind of edit. If the story doesn't mean the same to you after the edit, you may need either a different editor or train the one you have.

Rule one. The author is always right.
Rule two. Should the author appear to be wrong, see rule one, above. The editor's job is to persuade you to consider his changes. Not to spelling, or some other obvious changes, like pairing quote marks at the beginning and end. But what the story means is the author's to make. Unless it is the editor's name on the story.

Wild Willie

Wow - this is getting long!

There seem to be two main questions here:
- Why do you write?
- How do you write?
All the others are variations and expansions of these.

And every writer here will have a different answer.

As for me, I write because I want to. After reading many stories on this site, and having a few ideas in my head, I thought I would try. So I wrote one chapter (or perhaps it was two) of a story and posted it to see what reaction I got. The result was about 40 emails from readers who said they liked it and a first score of about 7.30. So I wrote some more.

A by-product of this is that I post a chapter as I finish it. It was the way I started and the way I have continued. Yes, it prevents me from that last 'tweaking' they having a complete unposted story would allow, but in this digital age, if a story goes too far wrong, you can always delete it and start again!

Which brings me to how I write. I work out the plot and the next few chapters in my head, review the last written one, and then write it. At home, on a train, wherever I may be and when I get the time. Once I get to a natural break, I stop to review the chapter. I read it through word by word, correct typos, change words where I have repeated them in the same sentence or paragraph, read it through again to make sure I'm happy with it, and then publish it.

That's it. No outside editing, no advice, no rough drafts. This is my story and I write the way I like and the way I am comfortable with.

But I stress, it's my way. I am not speaking against editors - they help many writers who do things differently than I do, and I read stories on here that, frankly, I'd love to edit as they badly need it. Some authors have great ideas for plots but can't get them down in good English, so that's what editors do. Others can write great English but struggle with plots, so they become editors and good luck to them for doing so.

I know that some fine editors read my stories, and like them, so that gives me comfort. What I do works for me. It may not work for you. Do what you are happy with.

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