Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Underwriter Challenge (or If Only I Were Underwritten)

Tip of the Day: I recently rediscovered my love of guacamole while in Mexico, and the manpanion and I stole Hacienda Sisal's recipe: avocado, lime juice, tomato, chili pepper, salt, garlic salt, cilantro. Start with small amounts of seasonings and add more to taste. Just recreated it and it's ALMOST like I'm still in the sun....

I am an overwriter. Anyone whose met me in person is probably not surprised ("You use so many words," the manpanion tells me when I update him on my work day. "Can't you just tell me what happened?").

I like being an overwriter for a number of reasons. In revisions, it is easier for me to cut than to add (adding feels like real work; cutting is just the delete button!). And I really know my characters through all the extraneous scenes and dialogs I create for them. Plus, little gems can pop up to be used in the story where I never saw them coming before my ramblings began.

But there are some reasons that I wish, just for once, I could be an underwriter. Why? My perception of underwriters is this:

1. Underwriters are typing THE END while I'm still beating chapter 5 to death

2. Underwriters have a fast-paced plot that they can't wait to get through while I'm still figuring out what's gonna happen in chapter 8 while I'm writing chapter 8

3. Underwriters are adding darlings while I'm deciding which scenes to slash

4. Underwriters don't have to scrap as much when they realize half their book isn't working

5. Underwriters are focused while I'm exploring what the carpet nubs feel like under the MC's pinky toes and how that's different than what they feel like under her pointer toes

6. Underwriters choose their words carefully while I throw 2 adverbs and 1 adjective into every beautifully crafted, quickly written long sentence

Does anyone have any tips on how to become more of an underwriter? Obviously fast-drafting doesn't work for me. If not a tip on becoming an underwriter, how about a balanced over/underwriter?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

7 comments:

Kate Fall said...

My theme for this month (at least) is PACING. I think I overwrite the parts that need to be skimmed through and underwrite the parts that need detail! Deena, maybe we need a pacing exercise. Because it's not really about learning to write six word stories as much as it's about writing at different paces for different scenes, right?

Emily Marshall said...

I'm an overwriter and an underwriter. I use too many words, but not enough description. It is a fine balance, and I'm constantly taking away stuff here and adding stuff here. I wish I was a bit more consistent, but I'm not. It depends on how fast I'm writing certain scenes and if I know where it's going. It also depends on my mood the day I'm writing.

And yes, the grass does always look greener on the other side, doesn't it? But it's likely not all sunbathing and cocktails beside the underwriter pool, I'm sure.

DeenaML said...

Ha! Underwriter pool! Em, right now that sounds like where I want to be, but you're right.

Kate, yes! Pacing. You are correct. What are some pacing exercises we can do with our ms?

Lisa Schroeder said...

Well, I am the queen of underwriter, which is why I love writing in verse so much. It allows me to write in as few words as possible.

One time I heard an editor who said she asks the question, "so what?" a lot. Maybe as you're writing a scene, or thinking about writing a scene, ask yourself, so what? If you get up in arms about what you're writing and have a good reason for writing it, then continue. If you don't have a good reason, maybe it's really not necessary to the story?

Ghost Girl said...

I'm a bit of an overwriter, too. I just get too carried away with description. Blame it on my passion for George Orwell!

I like Lisa's approach. This usually comes as I sit down to start writing each day. I go through what I wrote last and start tidying up. Then on my final revision, I do more major weeding. I wish I had some good advice for you, but I'm stuck in the same rut.

Now...to get going with my WIP!

DeenaML said...

Ghosty -- George Orwell? Ha! :)

Lisa -- I like that "So what?" approach! I will definitely try that as I write the second half of the book and revise the first!

Sierra Rix said...

Sometimes I'll map a chapter in shorthand - just straight conversation, two word descriptions. I've found it to be especially helpful on those rare and lovely occasions when scenes unfold in my mind faster than my fingers can hit the keys.
I guess you could call it skeleton writing, cause there is really no meat - but then there isn't any fat either!