Don’t Fall into the Fix It Trap

Finish lineWhen you start a new story, do you write it from beginning to end before you begin to rework it?  Or do you write chapter 1, rewrite chapter 1 and then rewrite chapter 1 some more?

The problem with rewriting before you finish a draft is that it is easy to fall into the rewrite trap.  First, you rework chapter 1 so that it has a stronger hook.  Then you add details that bring the setting to life and set the mood.  You think you’ve done a pretty good job until your critique group comments on it.  Now you have to rework it yet again.  And heaven forbid you read an article on dialogue or voice, because that will require yet another rewrite.

We all know that we will need to rewrite our work not once but several times.  We also know that we have to present editors and publishers with the best possible product.  Because of this, we are always reading up on how to write and soliciting advice from our fellow writers.  Once we’ve learned this new technique or been given advice, we feel the need to apply it.

That’s all well and good, unless it keeps you from actually reaching the end. I’ve worked with writers who constantly rework that first chapter.  They go back to it again and again, spending years on their opening without ever reaching the conclusion.  They fix each and every problem that they read about whether or not anyone has ever spotted this problem in their work.

Don’t do this to yourself.  Instead, give yourself permission to finish.


3 thoughts on “Don’t Fall into the Fix It Trap

  1. I loved this! Well said. I completely agree. I have my YA manuscript in the hands of two agents now, but previously I was very nervous to show anyone my manuscript. I think we want it to be “perfect”. You don’t want to submit crap, but allow yourself to finish and feel that you did the best you could. Thanks for the post.

    1. You’re welcome! It really is a matter of balance. Make it the best piece that you can write, but then quit fiddling. Judging just where you are in this process is tough!

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