Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Which Our Heroine Types A Lot

I've waxed lyrical about the joys of occasionally writing by hand before, but I must admit it's starting to annoy me.

I'm still working on my silly, light-hearted fantasy story (although is it still light-hearted if the Devil is involved?) and I'm still writing it by hand. However, I'm a bit of a show-off and I want other people to read it when it's done, so I have started typing it up to make that easier.

Talk about bloody tedious.

On the plus side, typing is a form of editing. I was typing up a scene between two characters recently - one male, one female. And I realised my female character dropped a bit of a bombshell (she knows about something that is supposed to be very, very secret) and the other character didn't notice she'd done it. Evidently I didn't either. . . clever writer, me.

As I was typing up the scene, I found I wanted to take it in a different direction. Instead of keeping up the gentle banter between them, I wanted him to say 'hang on - how do you know about that?' But I'd forgotten if there was anything else important in the scene, and I was too short on time to start a major edit, so I just typed it as it was written, except I popped in a line where my male character thinks 'Something she said isn't sitting right and I can't figure out what it is.' Or words to that effect (this scene takes place at five in the morning, so he isn't at his smartest, just so you know. And he'd had a bit of a shock earlier that night. And he's being written by a writer who hadn't noticed the bombshell first time around).

Once I'd finished typing up the scene, I realised my idea for the edited version was better than what I had written. He does need to notice, and they do need to talk about it (and it needs to be dazzlingly written, which is the hard part, of course. . .). I think this will work better, because their conversation will now be about confrontation rather than about two characters talking to each other because I need them to.

That would be the advantage of writing by hand and typing as I go. I spotted this early, while still on my first draft, so I can fix it early. In fact, I can fix it before I've wasted time writing the scene that was slated to take place two days later, in which my hero has a Eureka moment.

The disadvantage is that it is so. Bloody. Time. Consuming. I have to allocate separate time for writing and for typing, which is difficult because finding time to write is my biggest problem as a writer anyway.

The notebook shopping makes up for it though. Completely :)


  1. Oh yes! Notebook shopping - gotta love it.

    Good luck with your scene!

  2. I write like this. Long hand and then first edit is the typing. Of course I haven't written anything longer than 5000 words yet. Maybe tomorrow!!!

    Good luck with the editing as you go.

    Hope you picked up a beautiful notebook!

  3. Hi

    I think if it works for you then why not? Just keep thinking of the lovely notebook shopping to keep you going!


    Take care

  4. I know what you mean about going back and forth between longhand and typing. And we only have so many hours in the day gosh darn it. But the work sounds good. We catch different things when we change the way we look at the WIP.

    Good luck with your fantasy--and are you still working on the Rosie story?

  5. I always do this, and you're right, it seems to take forever. I write the original draft in longhand, then transcribe to my laptop, editing as I go. Ugh, very tedious and time consuming, but yes, it is nice to edit while typing. Sort of.

  6. I think after this story I may be going back to the quicker type-directly method, but it's such a different experience from writing by hand that I think the nature of the WIP will probably dictate how it's written in future.

    Christine, I am taking a break from Rosie. I'm incredibly close to finishing it but there was one whole section that I couldn't get a handle on, and it was making me feel like I didn't want to be a writer anymore because it was just too hard (*insert big WHINE here*). So I decided to let it sit for a little while, finish another project, and then go back to finishing Rosie.

  7. Hi, Ellen! I resisted for many, many years moving from longhand to composing at the computer. But then I got a job as a reporter, and I had no time to write first in longhand and then transpose. It's a different sort of writing, but you get used to it.

    I wouldn't go back now, and I love the fact that my typewritten words don't seem as, I dunno, permanent, as my ink-written words. Plus, you gotta love the ease of Find And Replace!

    OTH, I have a CP and a friend who (I believe) still composes strictly in longhand. She writes at her kids' practices and games, and never has to worry about her laptop battery going down.

    It's all in what works for you! There's no right answer!

  8. I'd go even further than that, Cynthia, and say it depends what works for what project! Some things I find far easier to type, other things I prefer to write by hand. Typing is quicker and more convenient but harder to do on buses (where I spent about one-eight of my waking life), writing by hand is slower and less convenient but more flexible. And that's before I start considering atmospheric issues. . .

    I'm almost caught up with my typing now, so continuing with the writing makes me feel less guilty now :)

  9. Also word-counting is easier on a PC ;-)

  10. That's so true :D

    BUUUT. . . it's such a lovely surprise when a quarter of a small notebook turns out to equal eleven thousand words. It's a lovely surprise!

  11. It is a dilemma. Sometimes it's easier to carry a notebook around than a laptop. Writing by hand and then transcribing allows you to automatically edit the first draft [writing] into the second draft [typing].

    Also agree that a quarter of a small notebook can equal 11,000 words being a lovely surprise! :)


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