Sunday, November 8, 2015

Handling the Inner Editor

I have a persistent inner editor (PIE). Obnoxious, really loud, nit-picking. Every annoying trait you can think of is waiting in my head to criticize whatever I write.

To be fair, it's not just my own writing that comes under fire. I rarely get through reading a novel any more without my PIE debating the author: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Over the course of several NaNoWriMo Novembers, I have discovered a few tricks that work for me. They don't silence the PIE, but they do serve to distract it so I can get on with the first-draft process of producing words that drive the story onward.

Mark and Go

I'm trying to get my protagonist out the door and on his journey of discovery, but my PIE wants to critique the single sentence that describes this movement:

He called from the door into the garage that opened into the front hall at the bottom of the stairs.

Yes, that sentence is not perfect. If I let it, the PIE will have me swapping words into a different order, maybe even breaking it into two sentences. Arghh! So I mollify the PIE with a note, telling us both I sincerely intend to come back and fix this in revision:

&&AWK:He called from the door into the garage that opened into the front hall at the bottom of the stairs.

Just like that, I can move on.

TBN #Later

I usually don't have a problem with character names, even when I'm pantsing. But once in a while, I know everything about a new actor in the story except a good name for him. When that happens, instead of abandoning the story to hunt around for inspiration, I name him "Tbn #Later" (To Be Named Later). 

I then use this name like any other: 

    Roger Pierce was surprised to see the athlete at the end of the bench, crayon in hand, intently coloring in a kid's book. His tongue projected slightly as he focused. "Who's that?" Roger prodded Joanna with his elbow and pointed as discretely as possible.
   "Oh, that's Tbn #Later," she answered with a little giggle. "Tbn's a good player, but he gets really anxious until he's in the game. He had an amazing fit one time when Coach kept him out most of the first half. Chewed off all his nails, broke out in hives... supposedly the coloring keeps his nerves steady."
   "You're kidding!" Roger said.
   "Yeah, I'm kidding. His dad donated the team uniforms the year he was a freshman, so they put him on the team. #Later plays like a klutz, but they don't have a full bench in Meteor, so they keep him on. He doesn't get into the game very often."

When it's time to reviseeven during November if a name just comes to me from the blueI can Search-and-Replace "Tbn" for the new first name, "#Later" for the last.

Bottom Line

Don't let the editor in your head distract you from churning out that first draftbut do let it do its job a little as you write. You're on the same team, after all.

You're just giving the PIE a coloring book to keep it occupied...

Word Count: 2523 Day 8 and 20906 Total