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Author Topic: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."  (Read 1824 times)

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Offline MrHassanSan

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"Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« on: December 09, 2012, 11:53:21 AM »
Thus spake Leonardo da Vinci. And he was right! You could edit your work for years and still find things you want to change! But you can't go on editing forever. Eventually, you're going to have to tell yourself "F*** it, I'm done." and hand your work over to the masses.

I can't tell you when you should stop working on your own story -- it's a judgment you'll have to make for yourself. I can, however, tell you when you should think about temporarily stopping and take a break from your work. I can also tell you when you definitely shouldn't edit your work.

  • When you've finished a chapter, you may read it over once and fix glaring mistakes such as referring to a character by the wrong name, but try not to change anything else! Instead, if you're still in the writing mood, continue onto the next chapter. If you go back to edit a chapter right after you've finished it, you may get caught up on small things that don't even really matter right now.

    Why fix that comma splice when no one's even going to read your work yet? There will be plenty of time to work on grammar and making everything sound pretty later - and the time you take to edit now could be better-spent finishing your work!

    If you're not really in the mood to write anymore, leave your story where it is. Don't pick it up again until you're ready to write again. When you are ready to write again, don't bother picking up that previous chapter.

  • If you're in the middle of a chapter, don't go back and read earlier pages from that chapter, unless you're looking for information you need to finish the chapter. Like I've said before, reading what you just wrote may make you start editing, which doesn't really need to be done yet unless you realize you need to change something major with your work. Major as in, "If I don't add another scene to this chapter, no one will understand the next eight chapters."

    It's really tempting (especially for me) to fix things as you're going along, but your  life will be MUCH easier if you resist the temptation and edit later.

  • Similar to number 2, while you're in the middle of a later chapter, do NOT go back and read anything from a previous chapter, unless you're looking for information you need to complete the current chapter.

  • After you've finished your entire story, do NOT read it. Not even if you feel like you did a really good job. Not even if there's a man standing next to you with a gun, telling you to read your manuscript. That man is probably me, and I'll only shoot if you take the bait.

    Seriously, reading your entire work over after you just completed it is a bad idea. You've *just* written your story, so it's still fresh in your mind. You won't be a good editor right after you've finished your story. You've just given birth to a beautiful piece of art!

    Instead, pat yourself on the back for a story well-finished, and go celebrate. Break out the ice cream and the party hats! Go out on the town! Stay inside and watch your favorite TV show! Have sex so loud the neighbors will either call the cops or sit at their window and listen!

  • For a major work, I recommend you wait a whole month before you start to edit anything. In the meantime, you can give your work to a friend or a trusted colleague on a writing site, and ask them to read and critique your work. If they finish their criticism before a month is up, do NOT read their comments.

  • Once a month has passed, and your palette has been thoroughly cleansed of your story, it's time to pull up your manuscript again!

    Beware though: the beautiful baby you bore last month is probably looking pretty ugly right now. You might be considering post-partum abortion. Resist the temptation to delete everything and start over.

  • Go through and read your story in its entirety before you look at other people's comments. If you read their comments beforehand, it might taint your reading experience. Go through your story for yourself first, and identify all the things you think are both really good and really bad. Don't change anything yet, though!

  • Now go through and read  your friend's comments. If they're a good friend, they'll tell you it's good no matter what piece of crap you just handed them. If they're a supportive writer however, they won't be afraid to lay down the hammer and tell you when your writing is crap.

    When you're reading the comments, make note of the things they saw that you also saw. Also make sure to note when multiple people say the same thing about your story. Even if you did not identify a particular issue, when everyone is saying the same thing it might be time to change something.

  • Now's the fun part: editing!

    You should be able to look at your story with fresh eyes now. That scene you thought was absolutely necessary might seem like contrived drivel now. You might realize one of your "lovable" characters is starting to come off as really annoying. You might discover you haven't included information that's pertinent to understanding basic elements of the plot. And you may also discover that comma splice from chapter one.

    Now's the time to fix it.

    Let loose with your pen (Or mouse I guess. I prefer to print my work out and edit with a pen). Have no mercy! Lay on, writer! And damned be him that cries "Hold! Enough!".
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Offline NationKay

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Re: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2012, 11:58:06 AM »
Slightly true, although there are a couple things I disagree on in the article. Idk.
It isn't about how you play the game.
It is about how you allow the game to play you.

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Offline MrHassanSan

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Re: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2012, 12:11:07 PM »
Such as? Let's talk about it!

Offline Suuper-san

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Re: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2012, 12:18:58 PM »
i agree on waiting a month or so before going back and double checking it, my dad has done this and hes like "what idiot wrote this...lol me" basically you forget what you wrote you approach it like someone else wrote it so you are more critical.

the same thing happens when i go back to code that i wrote like years ago i think what the hell.

and yes getting caught up on small details is one of my weaknesses, i am trying to get over that :P
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Offline Coryn

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Re: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2012, 01:18:18 PM »
It's definitely a true statement. I know personally I've been reworking my first book for years now. Constantly trying to pull it up to the length I oringinally intended without breaking the pacing, and making the writing itself of acceptable skill level for publication. I think everybody definitely needs to feel that out for themselves. Perfection isn't possible, but that's no excuse for turning in something you find sloppy.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Suuper-san

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Re: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2012, 01:25:16 PM »
i would never be able to hand in something i wasn't proud of, thats a definite.
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