How do you deal with the crappy sections?

Ainsley

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Hi everyone, first post. I'm part way through my first novel and I was doing pretty good for a while as far as achieving what I consider consistent quality - at least for a first draft. But now I am hitting a wall of crapitude. I know the plot points and I'm trying to get my characters from A to B, but it's a struggle to get what in my head passes for good writing out on the page. Maybe it's the second act doldrums.

A friend of mine blurted that I should just 'crap it out'; accept that this round is going to have serious valleys and deal with that later. What do you folks think? How do you deal with the rough patches where you know the writing isn't up to snuff?


ac
 

Warren_Paul

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Firstly: Welcome to the Chrons! You're doomed now. :)

We all get those crappy scene days. I've rewritten my books many, many times because the previous drafts sucked. Yesterday I started again, doing a new draft of my Nanowrimo project from the beginning. It feels like I'm throwing that 50k worth of words away, but it's worth it. The improvement is amazing.


I find there are two options for me:

#1 - Go back to the beginning and start working on the next draft, because you know there will be a next one, and another after that likely. By the time you get back up to the scene the book will have grown into something more, something better, and you will have a clearer path ahead.

#2 - Follow your friend's advice. Crapping it out will get the general plot on paper - as long as you know what the general plot is - and then come back to it later, because you will be doing that anyway.
 

HareBrain

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I've found that when I end up in the Valley of the Crap, it's often because I've taken the wrong route down from the mountains. Writing pages of turgid prose seems to be my subconscious's way of telling me that the plot I had mapped out wasn't quite right, the characters don't want to cooperate with it, and so on.

It might be that you have to struggle through the valley and up the other side to see the path you should have taken, though.
 

Bowler1

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Firstly: Welcome to the Chrons! You're doomed now. :)

Well said, WP.

I say trust your judgement and focus on the problem areas. You can carry on to the end but I've discovered that you may then be building on poor foundations and end up having to edit in the problem areas later. This editing in, I think is harder than getting a fairly good draft done first time.

That said I think it depends what type of writer you are. I do a lot of planning before writing so I already have a plot in mind. If you are the seat of pants writer, then maybe plowing on and seeing what happens might work better for you.

Right, I've said everything and nothing, so I'm off... ;)
 

The Judge

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When you say crappy sections, do you mean the mechanics of the scene (ie pace/flow/not sure what the hell they are doing in a locked room in a tower anyway) or the actual writing (ie the words themselves have as much life as a turkey on Boxing Day)?

If the former, sit and do a bit of planning, and force yourself to ask awkward questions, the most important of which are how is this scene moving the action forward and what am I showing about the characters? Write copious notes with suggestions of how to deal with it better eg how to improve pace (junk the over-long description) and remove obstacles (have them meet in a hay loft instead).

If it's the writing, then the crap-it-out advice is a good one, as most poor writing will get caught on edits/re-writes. I can't do that myself, and I have to keep fidgeting with a scene, a paragraph, a sentence until it's as good as it can be this time around (always knowng that when I come back to it later some of it may change). That depends on what kind of writer you are, what kind of person you are, and it takes an awful amount of perseverence to act on advice that is contrary to one's own nature no matter how sensible that advice is!

Good luck with it anyway. You'll see that we have a Critiques section open to those with over 30 counted posts, so as and when you get there you can always put something up and let us tell you what we think about the crapitude... :eek:

And Welcome to the Chrons!
 

Mark R

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So long as you're hitting the necessary plot points and doing the necessary characterisation, then I agree with your friend - crap it out.

Bad writing can get fixed on the next go-round - the enemy of writers is not bad writing, it's not writing at all. Accept that this bit isn't your best for the moment and move on.
 

SciFrac

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Welcome Ainsley! I agree with your friend. Write your first craptastic draft, then edit later. Getting something on paper is the hardest step.

... it takes an awful amount of perseverence to act on advice that is contrary to one's own nature no matter how sensible that advice is!

Cheers to that, TJ! I usually think I'm in control of myself until I try to change.:D
 

allmywires

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I agree with the power-through method too. Sometimes a scene will just feel wrong - maybe I'm a bit rusty, or my characters aren't behaving quite naturally - and I have no idea what I've done wrong. I don't get anywhere except really bloody frustrated if I pore over that one scene for days trying to fix it. I just have to make sure I finish the scene (never, NEVER leave a scene you don't want to write unfinished, that's my personal rule!) and then I can come back to it with a fresh perspective and sort it out, hopefully.
 

allmywires

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Basically, yeah. I can skip past it only so far, but if I know it has to be written and I don't feel good about it, it just completely switches off writing mode for me and gets me stuck in a rut. The only way is to sit down, take a deep breath, roll my sleeves up and just ride the wave of crap. ;)
 

Jo Zebedee

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My first drafts are, generally atrocious. But I need to get to the end before, as HB points out, I can see the path. Part of it comes down to how open you are to rewriting, I don't mind it, so I'm happy to assume a lot will be cut, but there are others who like to get it right first time, and it you're that type, I suspect you'll need to fix it first.
 

Ainsley

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If it's the writing, then the crap-it-out advice is a good one, as most poor writing will get caught on edits/re-writes. I can't do that myself, and I have to keep fidgeting with a scene, a paragraph, a sentence until it's as good as it can be this time around (always knowng that when I come back to it later some of it may change). That depends on what kind of writer you are, what kind of person you are, and it takes an awful amount of perseverence to act on advice that is contrary to one's own nature no matter how sensible that advice is!


And Welcome to the Chrons!

Yes it's mainly just the writing, although the outlining may also play a part: perhaps breaking down the scenes into greater detail before-hand would grease the wheels better. Hmm. It's that fine line between having enough structure/limitations yet leaving room for inspiration. There are just some areas of a narrative that really require mechanics more than inspiration and I just have to get used that.

thanks for the welcome!

ac
 

Ainsley

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(never, NEVER leave a scene you don't want to write unfinished, that's my personal rule!)

LOL, that is DEFINITELY an issue. I just can't do it. Especially since this is my first novel, I feel like I would be undermining or de-legitimizing my efforts if I were to skip somewhere...
 

Ainsley

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My first drafts are, generally atrocious. But I need to get to the end before, as HB points out, I can see the path. Part of it comes down to how open you are to rewriting, I don't mind it, so I'm happy to assume a lot will be cut, but there are others who like to get it right first time, and it you're that type, I suspect you'll need to fix it first.

I accept that rewriting will be mandatory. If I try for perfection, the project will never get done.

@ Harebrain:

I've found that when I end up in the Valley of the Crap, it's often because I've taken the wrong route down from the mountains. Writing pages of turgid prose seems to be my subconscious's way of telling me that the plot I had mapped out wasn't quite right, the characters don't want to cooperate with it, and so on.

Oof. This is my worst nightmare. I don't mind rewriting a scene, but re-STRUCTURING, gah! I do make a strong effort to avoid this with my outlining but I anticipate some this will happen with minor/supporting character regardless.
 

HareBrain

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Oof. This is my worst nightmare. I don't mind rewriting a scene, but re-STRUCTURING, gah! I do make a strong effort to avoid this with my outlining but I anticipate some this will happen with minor/supporting character regardless.

At the risk of making you wake up screaming, keep an open mind about it even with major plot elements and characters. If you ignore the possibility, but keep tinkering with something structurally flawed in the hope that it comes right, you might be setting yourself up for a huge amount of wasted time in the long run. Of course, you don't want to undertake major structural work unless it's necessary. So how do you tell when it's absolutely necessary? Sadly, the only answer I know is through much experience of getting it wrong.
 

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