I wish I was back in London, but no, I am in edit hell

The weather looks so nice in England. Not that it isn’t nice here in TX, but when my mom and I were in the UK in December, it was so freakin’ cold! I want to be back there when we can stay out past 5pm and not be in danger of hypothermia.

Also, if I were in another country, I wouldn’t be slogging through the first draft of my manuscript, trying to put everything in order, trying to make my plot run smoothly. And oh God, the cliches! I use them as placeholders, framework if you will, to hang my plot on and then I change the specifics later. But now I’m running into them and having to edit them out. I’m both laughing and ashamed.

Let me see you a scene. My group of three heroes gets separated. Two are in one warehouse, another is in a warehouse across a parking lot. The first two discover they’ve walked into a trap. They rush out to warn the third one, but as they leave their warehouse, the warehouse across the parking lot…does what?

Did you say explodes? I am deeply deeply ashamed to say that you’re right. However, before you disown me, let me say again that it is a placeholder for a misunderstanding and then a tragic event. I think seeing it written as a cliche helps me from pulling a cliche in the final draft. At least, *sigh* I hope that’s what it’s doing. Hey, I’ll think of it this way, when I’m a huge bestselling author *snort*, and my first draft leaks, people will still have a complete surprise waiting when they see the real thing. If they haven’t given me up in disgust after reading all my cliches.

Am I a complete weirdo? Does anyone else rely on cliches when they’re drafting, just as scaffolding? Please tell me I’m not alone. *Extra sigh* I’m alone, aren’t I?

One place I’m not alone is on Fansci, where it’s my day to post!


15 thoughts on “I wish I was back in London, but no, I am in edit hell

  1. Without knowing the genre or the premise, it’s hard to say, but basically you want something that’ll raise the stakes even higher.

    The guy they came to warn might be running toward them. Maybe he’s bleeding, or delirious, or screaming incoherently. Maybe they enter the building, but their friend has disappeared, leaving nothing but a message scrawled in blood.

    If I’m stuck, I generally type in big bold letters: ‘something happens here’. LOL. Then I sleep on it and hope to come up with something clever.

    • I’ve already thought of something to replace the cliche, Maria, but thanks for your suggestions. ^_^ I usually think of something to replace the cliches right after I write them, but since I’m usually running for the finish line with a first draft, I just make a note and move on.

  2. I don’t put in placeholders at all — but I write much slower than you and can only offer up one completed novel, so there’s no way I’m knocking your process.

  3. Cliches are definitely placeholders. The writing group I’m in talks about “unpacking” such phrases, whether they’re wooden bits of description, unfinished/obvious moments or actual cliches. I love that image of taking something that has been seen before and really diving into it, sorting through it and finding something richer at the bottom.

  4. LoL, Barb!!! While I don’t use this technique, I know we all have little things we use to get the creative juices flowing and to keep us all on track. Keep at it!!! I know that the end result will be fantastic!!!

  5. I use cliches in first drafts, mostly in dialogue and description. Since I write most of my first drafts during NaNoWriMo, it’s definitely a placeholder thing for the sake of speed. I’m trying to edit them out of one of my ms’s right now, and you’re right… while it does make me laugh, it’s also making me groan because of how much work it takes to edit them out… blarg.

    • I’m glad it’s not just me, Faith. With nano, it’s definitely all about speed. I think I just did it this time because I like to hurry through a draft and get my framework in place.

  6. I don’t use placeholders for plot elements, but I definitely do for words. I publish pretty much as I write, so the plot elements have to be right the first time. I clean up the words right before I post, but you can’t do that with a major piece of the plot.

      • Barbara, you bring up a very interesting point, one that I never thought of (though of course it seems obvious, now that you’ve pointed it out for me). I was a musician before I started writing seriously, and so I had a lot of experience performing on stage, including various gigs that (shall we say) didn’t exactly go as planned.

        After that, actually, posting a story with some awkward dialogue or a plot hole isn’t so bad. At least nobody’s going to walk out, or throw things. šŸ™‚

        And do I think there are advantages to working the way I do, which I talked about on my blog:

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