Plough through or correct as you go?

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  • Plough through or correct as you go?

    When you're writing your latest script, do you:

    a) put down words, then edit them - swapping words out, capitalising, trimming words to make those 3.5 lines fit neatly into 2 lines, and continually go back over previous pages time and time again or b) put down words and keep moving on, leaving them as they are - even if you've orphans, bigger blocks of action lines than you'd like, descriptions that could be tauter - just so you can finish your script?


    The pro of a) is that there's less editing to do when you finish, it will look good (which is heartening) and you'll most likely have a lean script around your ideal page count but the downside is stasis - endlessly going over the first 20 pages and never finishing it (which is demoralising).

    The pro of b) is that you actually finish it, have something you can analyse in full, can hand to others for their feedback but the flipside is that you'll likely end up with something unwieldly, unfocussed, and will require a lot of editing and page snipping, making the gemstone underneath all that clutter harder to find.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

    Hey this isn't a Bono thread.

    I'm a correct as you go type, I'm too anal not to keep looking back and fiddling.
    Results posted for the Halloween 2020 contest
    in Writing Exercises forum

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    • #3
      Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

      Thanks to the technology of the day, a bit of both, but more of the “keep going” practice. Once the first draft is completed, the rest is editing, trimming, and rewriting along with proofreading and correcting typos.
      Last edited by TigerFang; 06-07-2020, 12:16 PM.
      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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      • #4
        Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

        Are we talking about typos and grammatical mistakes or are we talking story revisions?

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        • #5
          Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

          Story revisions, I'll wager.
          "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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          • #6
            Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

            Revisions.

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            • #7
              Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

              I try to push through and write entire "vomit" draft, but I also rewrite the first pages and thus Act One is pristine and the last 60 pages are filled with grammar mistakes. But I don't look to trim action lines or orphans or how it looks on the page until I have the whole thing.

              My thinking is simple. Why waste time painting a wall when you might have to delete the entire room? In other words, do all the little things after you lock structure and scenes.

              The way they do the sound edit after picture is locked. That's the same method I use for grammar stuff.

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              • #8
                Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                I rewrite as I go. Sometimes later dialogue or plot points will slightly diverge from earlier pages for various reasons, so I'll go back and make things consistent when that happens.

                I also have a tendency to go back and cut out length when I feel like I'm off my mark by a few pages when it comes to structural beats.

                These days, my final drafts hardly differ at all from my first drafts aside from addressing any grammar issues or typos because I address a lot of my structural and story issues before I finish the final page.

                And that's not to say I wouldn't do a dramatic overhaul if I was given some actionable notes to improve it, but those have become much less common than my earlier days as a writer.

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                • #9
                  Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                  Plough through. I'll usually read a few pages back the next day, however, correcting typos or anything that's obviously stupid before I start. If it's something I'm unsure of I'll leave a note.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                    Plough through. The first draft is barely legible. I think the momentum is important. You can have a frst draft in a month. That can be very encouraging.

                    It's like a sculptor, you can lose the big picture - which first drafts are all about - if you get hung up on the detail:. edting, grammar typo's, any one can do that, so its importance has less value. But can you tell a story? That's what everyone is looking for.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                      I think it depends on the results you see in your process and if you are happy with them or not. If you are a fiddler but by the time the process is done you have yourself a great script(i.e. places high in a contest, is well received on Blacklist, gets you an agent/manager) then that works for you. But if you are a fiddler and you hardly ever, if ever really, finish a first draft then maybe give ploughing through a try.

                      From personal experience, I've done both. On one hand if I fiddle I risk never getting to the later stages of the story and fizzling out on it and on the other if I plough through I'm not pleased with the quality and the story seems blah to me.

                      I've decided on the plough through for me. I know the quality won't be there the first draft but I will force myself to come up with what happens next.

                      I've been working a script since March(off and on), I'd say it's been getting five - 7 hours per week attention. I spent March reading and watching lots of movies in this genre then coming up with a sense of how my story needed to move, what does the beginning look like, the middle, the end. Get a sense of what you are progressing toward. I had certain scenes I knew had to be in there somewhere and the beginning stages of a few characters. Then I put myself on a 4 page per day page count and I stuck to it and in 3.5 weeks I had the first draft. I never wrote a draft in that amount of time before. Was the product of it the "story"? By no means not even close. I still don't have the story totally. Still missing scenes that I know I need to have happen. That means opening up the structure and messing with its parts. That means you may never get it back together again. I think you need to get into the mindset that it's ok if you have a lot of work to do.

                      Too many budding writers want to write that first draft and then polish it and say this is my baby. I think they leave a lot on the table with story. Most aspiring writers can do much better than they show, IMO, if they tweaked their process.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                        Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
                        I think it depends on the results you see in your process and if you are happy with them or not. If you are a fiddler but by the time the process is done you have yourself a great script(i.e. places high in a contest, is well received on Blacklist, gets you an agent/manager) then that works for you. But if you are a fiddler and you hardly ever, if ever really, finish a first draft then maybe give ploughing through a try.
                        Yup. For me, if I keep starting my day rereading what I wrote before and editing, the overall progress becomes painfully slow.

                        It also feeds into procrastination and fear - it's easier for me to rework something I've already written than face a blank page.

                        So I'm a fan of getting the first draft out there and then going back to rework. But of course there's no right or wrong way, try both and see what works for you.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                          I know "writing is rewriting" is accepted wisdom, but it doesn't work for me. I can't imagine anything more depressing than finishing a script and knowing most of my work is ahead of me.

                          With a screenplay, I'll usually start at the beginning each day. That's the slow going - changing stuff because I realize the payoff I wrote later didn't land as much as I'd like, putting in setups for ideas I came up with later in the script, etc, etc. Besides, as we've all been talking about, if the opening of a script doesn't grab people, you're in trouble. My first act has been polished fifty times.

                          By the time I get to the last act, I usually fly though it - everything has (hopefully) been set up and I know exactly where it's going.

                          To me, if I've built a whole script on a vomited out first act that's going to be massively rewritten, there's no way I can avoid almost tossing the whole thing. Who builds a house with a shoddy foundation and keeps going up? You have to tear it down and start again.

                          Similarly with tv comedy scripts - I don't move on until I have a joke/line that I like. I'm going to have to take the time to get it eventually, so why not while I'm, you know, writing? And like a screenplay - if I get a great joke I'm keeping early on, I can build on it later.

                          I'm certainly not saying it has to be done this way - only that that's the way I do it, so don't feel bad if that's your approach. When I type "fade out" on a screenplay, it's usually less than 24 hours until I submit it.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                            Jeff,

                            Do you ever not make it to fade out(given you are writing a spec and not under contract to turn something in)? Do you ever get to the middle of the script and change your opinion on the viability of the story or have the energy you started with fizzle out?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Plough through or correct as you go?

                              I correct, tweak and polish as I go. I do the same with my prose fiction and articles or white papers I ghostwrite for my business clients.

                              Read from page one every time I work on it and make changes as I go.

                              Occasionally, I'll boldface a line of dialog or description/action as a placeholder until I come up with a better line. But I rarely wait till the end of the first draft to tweak these lines.

                              I confess I don't write detailed outlines like the example on the main site. I work out a punch list of plot points without detailing scenes at all.

                              I may make notes about main characters to create a sense of their personality and personal back story (or if they're partially based on people I know or have met) but that's just informal notes to self.

                              I've had a resistance to writing detailed outlines since high school. When teachers required one for an assigned paper, I would write the paper first then use it to create an outline to hand in.
                              Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 06-10-2020, 05:41 PM. Reason: Worked on link
                              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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