One of my biggest rules of writing is this: Don’t start editing until you’ve finished the first draft. Period. No matter what.
Two days ago, I broke that rule, and already I can tell it is paying off.
So how do you know when to let common sense override your rules? When do you bend the rules, or break them entirely? Should you be flexible, or should you hold fast to your principles, no matter what?
Everyone has a unique writing method that works for them, so please understand, everything I’m about to say comes only from my own perspective. You might agree completely, or you might think I’m so wrong that you’re overcome with the desire to throw rolls and rolls of toilet paper around my yard.
(Good luck with that, because we only have one tiny tree and like two square feet of yard.)
(And our neighbors have dogs.)
(So it’s best if you just don’t roll us.)
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, people, I’ve got to get back to the point here.
Okay. So here’s how I broke my own rule. I had made it to Chapter 15, which was roughly 33,000 words. My first drafts run short, so I was more than halfway through the story (I usually add 10-15,000 words in revisions). And as I wrapped up Chapter 15, I realized something.
I was losing it.
The story, the characters, the words . . . all of it was slipping away from me. I was going so fast through the first draft that I had stopped developing characters altogether. I couldn’t write dialogue anymore because I wasn’t sure how the people would speak. I was bored with the action scenes because I couldn’t see my characters doing any of the stuff they were supposed to do.
If I had kept going, each chapter would have become so short and so bare-boned that it would hardly be worth putting it on paper.
So I scrolled all the way back up to Chapter 1 and started back through, adding in description and really spending time on the characters and their dialogue. And it is really helping me.
What rules have you broken, and why?