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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Friday, March 9, 2018

Creative versus critical voice

I’ve been reading Dean Wesley Smith’s article entitled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4477) and it’s making me think about creative versus critical voice. What Dean says is that we should always write in creative voice even when editing.  Furthermore, he doesn’t believe in the editing we all think we have to do—draft after draft after draft all in the name of improvement.  I’m puzzling over this because of how many drafts I’ve done on my trilogy and what I’ve accomplished—for one thing I know that I did not stay in creative voice.

My husband says the first draft of The Moonstone was the best. It meandered all over, with lots of description with no hook at the beginning. I changed it because I wanted to have an agent pick it up—and so I had a hook in the first line. It didn’t go over the requisite 65,000 words. The first pages moved rapidly into the plot line. Did an agent pick it up? No. But by then I was on my way to cutting and slashing, taking out descriptive passages that “didn’t further the narrative” and making sure that the plot moved forward at all costs. But sometimes this may not be such a good idea--I have one reader who wanted to know what I'd cut out of the book. For her the meandering parts are the best. 

Dean writes his first draft, corrects for mistakes and typos and so on and then hands it to his reader—of course he’s a professional, having written numerous books. We can’t all do that, especially as debut authors, can we? And what about staying in creative voice? I’m not sure I understand how to do so since my internal editor is  strong and opinionated. Clues need to be noticed when we’ve left creative voice, I suppose—I ran some changes by my husband recently—I took out articles, ‘the’ specifically, since I had two of them in a sentence. When I read the sentence with and without ‘the’, the one with flowed better. Maybe that’s a way to decipher the code for creative or critical—reading aloud…

One thing I can say is, if I feel energy behind what I’m writing then I should keep going. If not, wait until the muse is there again, whispering in my ear.

What do you think about creative versus critical voice? Do you know when you’re in one or the other? How many drafts do you do?

(this is a reprint of an old one, but thought it important enough to post again)

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