Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'll Fix It Later

When you're writing your first draft, do you ever think, I’ll fix it later? I seem to be generating a lot of these with my current WIP. Here's a partial list:

1) Add in more character-specific details – At the beginning of my novel, my MC has a keen sense of smell, but I’ve been forgetting to mention that as I get involved writing down the story.

2) Build a foundation – When I come up with a great idea partway through the story, I need to go back and make sure it’s set up or at least supported by what happens at the beginning.

3) Make it consistent – Sometimes later ideas change a story situation or event (I’m flexible). I might drop or add a character. Change a name. I need to go back and fix places that will make my reader go, Huh?

4) Names of minor characters – I know it’s weird, but once in a while, when I refer to a minor character from an earlier part of the story, I can’t remember their name and don’t want to stop to check. (Maybe this means I need some kind of character chart?)

5) Enhance the setting – During my first draft, setting is one of those things that’s just there. Later, I’ll go back and help to bring it to life with carefully chosen details.

I’m sure there are lots more. How do I keep track of all the things I need to fix? Two ways. I write them right in the manuscript in bold, caps or some other font that makes them stand out from the rest of the story. Or I write about them in my story-specific journal, with a big heading: Fix This Later.


  1. I do the same thing. Within the text itself, I'll bold the font and make it red so it catches my eye. I keep track of things I want to fix in my journal, too. I'm not terribly organized though. My notes tend to be scattered throughout the journal. I also have notes and arrows scribbled over my outline. No wonder I have trouble keeping all the balls I'm juggling in the air!

  2. I make notes of things to fix in the margins. I'm getting better about this. I used to demand of myself that my first drafts be too perfect (which, when you're on deadline, is sometimes necessary). But with standalone books, there's more freedom to let the first draft be discovery and the revision process be major overhaul, and I think that's adding to both enjoyment and an ultimately better book for me.

  3. I keep a scene list spreadsheet along with my manuscript. I either make a note on the scene list, or I make a note in [brackets] in the manuscript. Since I never (or rarely) use brackets for fiction, they're easy to search.

  4. Carmella, I'm working on being more organized about this too. I like Shannon's idea about using brackets - then you can use the search feature to easily find them later. Adding them to a scene list is a neat idea too - I have been keeping a brief description of each scene as I go along - it would be easy and a great visual to add a notation for something I need to revist.

    Marcia, knowing what kind of things are easy/difficult to fix later has been importnat for me, in learning to let go of some of my perfectionism. For example, it's harder to fix major plot issues later, without taking apart the whole novel, but something like the consistency of a character's gestures I can go back and work on without too much disruption.

  5. I'm big on making notes. I'll break into the text and use a different color so it stands out. What I'm not good at is keeping a manuscript-specific notebook—I don't know why. I seem to like/want everything on the manuscript.

  6. I'm terrible at making notes. If I think something needs to be changed, I usually just go in and do it while I'm thinking of it. Makes for a slow first draft!

    I think I'll try to take a more free approach with my next novel. Just get a draft written and then go back and make changes. I've definitely got some good starting points from you ladies. Thanks!

  7. I have all these crazy sticky notes everywhere. And then sometimes I highlight sections and write notes in BOLD so I won't forget.


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