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Better With Every Project?

December 4th, 2012 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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Setting aside my latest draft I return to an edit of a previous story. And I’m struck by how much I have improved since then. Am I getting better all the time or am I just confused?

I prefer to do some editing the old-fashioned way – paper and a red pen (freehand is still good for some things, after all). The plan was to go straight back to the computer and copy this up, but I was editing alongside drafting for another project. Once the editing was done, I put it to one side to make sure I got this other draft done.

So, short version is, I’ve just come back to these edits after drafting another story. And at first glance, the difference in quality is striking. But it’s not just the writing itself – I’ve changed a bit too.

My first story

speaking of looking at old work, here is a post I wrote looking at my oldest work. And here is one from Craig looking at some of his trunked projects.

I’m going to take a quick look at each of the areas of improvement in turn…

It’s Getting Better

  • The Voice. I don’t know if it’s because I have spent so much time with another project, but coming back to this one, I feel like my writing style has improved a great deal.

    Of course, it might be that I come back to my recently drafted project in a couple of months and realise it’s utter garbage. But for now, I’m encouraged by the thought each story makes me a better writer.

  • Even my edits need editing. Sometimes those scrawls of red pen seem somewhat ill-advised in places. Again, and this is going to be a recurring theme I think, this may be to do with distance. This time, it’s distance not just from the main text, but also from my edits.

    The result is that I now find myself editing my edits. This may also be because I am now transferring these edits to the screen, where I find writing easier. It may also be a matter of integrating these edits into the flow of the text, rather than having the red ink sentences hanging perilously off of paragraphs.


    Getting better, or just crazier?

  • I am also a little braver. Again this might be due to me having some distance from this project, but following my post on beginnings, I have decided to completely cut my introduction to this particular story.

    It was too confusing. This was intentional – it’s a jumble of images that are disorienting, but that make more sense once the scene is repeated later. It wasn’t a bad idea as such, but the result was completely inaccessible, and not a valid hook.

    The first line of the following scene – “Quiat awoke in a silver sea” – is much more compelling in my opinion.

All in the Mind?

Is it that I’m more removed from this story now that I’ve spent time with another? Or is it that I’m getting better?

Most likely it is a bit of both, as always seems the way. I certainly hope to improve with everything I write. Just from the point of view of the time investment, it would certainly make the effort seem worth while!

Over to you:
But I’m wondering what other people’s experiences are with their own writing. How do you gauge your improvement over time? Do you sometimes feel like you’re going backwards, or is each piece of work a leap in the right direction? Pop a comment below, hell, pop five. The last one is bound to be better than the first :-)

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