The Perils and Purpose of the Intuitive Writer

In Craft on November 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm

I’ve edited hundreds of manuscripts by now, and the aggregate number of writers who come to me write just like I used to, by intuition–which is to say they have an internalized sense of what makes a story or novel  work and run from there. Ater the story has been birthed they seek feedback and THEN discover what craft elements they still have to beef up on or have missed altogether. I actually think this is a wonderful method of writing. These writers press on without the critic or the censor stopping their flow, doing what some of the most diligent writers never do: get a first draft down in a reasonable amount of time.

However, the problem with this method, if you can call it a problem, is that many of them feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and put out when they receive the first heavy load of editorial feedback. I’m straightforward with people, though never mean, but I’ve learned to put a huge caveat at the beginning of my editorial summaries that walks them through the stages I’ve seen most new clients go through. (Overwhelm, discouragement, anger, despair…and eventually, with enough time, renewed commitment to the project).

So I’ll say the following again and again (and not just as a way to get you to buy my book). If you can learn to master scene writing, and write scenes from the very beginning, even in your most colossally bad drafts, you will be way ahead of the game when it comes to revision.

Stay tuned for tips on scene writing basics.

  1. Jordan, I just had this discussion with someone. I don’t edit much anymore, but when I was this was one of the hardest things to deal with. The discouragement (and the fear) that newer writers feel when they get a thorough critique can be huge. I think the best we can do is help them see that their feelings are normal and to be expected, but also that they CAN take those critiques and work them into their stories. I like that you set this out at the beginning of your report.

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