When reading your own writing: GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT!

notes, notes, and more notes on the draft....

notes, notes, and more notes on the draft….

I am just about finished my first draft read-through of “The Esclavan Abductions,” my fourth Herezoth novel. The process has gone really well so far. The draft has major issues, don’t get me wrong, but I do think the story has potential (and I wasn’t convinced ahead of time I would!)

I just adore the main characters, who were all children at the end of the first trilogy and hardly feature there at all. I’m not sure how the greater plot arc of the adventure–which involves a war that isn’t settled by book’s end–is going to play out, but I can’t wait to discover it! I do believe I can find some way to settle things that’s both believable and interesting.

So…. the read-through. I think I have some five or six scenes left, if I remember right. I’ve left myself well over 100 comments in Microsoft Word. (Find out here what to take notes about during a read-through). Some of my notes I’m proud of.

I’m always glad when I catch inconsistencies in the text, because I’m afraid I’ll overlook then. You know, like when you mention twice that a character stands up or sits down or does something specific. Or–something I caught today–when you particularly mention in one scene that a character avoids watching something she doesn’t want to see, and then in a later scene, you make a reference to her reflecting on vivid memories of what she couldn’t have seen. Stuff like that.


WAIT a minute…. weren’t your eyes BLUE two scenes ago?

I’m particularly proud of my comments that say things like “This paragraph is awful. It can probably go.” Or, “This wording is so awkward!” “The last sentence here is terrible.” Why is that?

I’m proud because I resisted the impulse to fix it as I was reading. That’s for the best, but it isn’t an easy thing for me to do, so I’m happy I managed to control my perfectionism to such an extent as I did.


One thing I’m not happy with myself about is that I didn’t leave comments for myself about stuff I liked. When a piece of dialogue was particularly good, or when I liked how genuine a character’s actions felt to me, or when I felt a plot twist was well-executed.

I marked none of that. And I wished I had, because positive comments mixed in with the critical can provide an energy and morale boost later one when I’m slaving away on the edits, wondering how on earth I’m going to fix this problem that is just so annoying because I can’t figure out how to solve the issue without doing this, and if I do this, then that becomes a factor, and….

You get the picture.

So remember: any assessment of your own work should be as impartial as you can make it. That means not only holding yourself accountable for what’s not so great, but giving yourself credit where credit is honestly due. Don’t short change yourself. 🙂

NOTE: I’m out of town for a wedding until the end of the weekend. Please feel free to comment if you’d like to! I’ll respond when I can. 🙂


16 responses to “When reading your own writing: GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT!

  1. It’s so difficult not to EDIT as you go and I am sure I’d be further forward with my first novel, if I could manage this. Loved your post. Good luck on the editing.

  2. I’ve never considered just reading and making notes – I always edit as I read. Do you find there’s an advantage in delaying making the changes that you see?

    • I think reading through helps me get a better overall vision of the story and specifically the pacing. It’s harder for me to judge if this are moving at a good pace when I’m stopping to edit. Some people might be better at that, though. I think it’s all what you prefer. Generally, I only do one read-through per novel. The rest is all just editing as I go through.

      • I do just the opposite – all my edits first, then a read-through. I might try it your way next time to see if I like it better!

        • I always like to try doing things new ways where my writing’s concerned. I sometimes find something that works much better than what I was doing. Your old way might be what works best for you but how do you know? I just might adopt a strategy closer to yours next time! Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Inconsistencies for me are the worst. I get so depressed, because I feel as though there could be multiple problems remaining, now that I’ve found one. My memory isn’t good enough to catch all of them.

    • Neither is my memory that good. But don’t freak out! I definitely can’t catch all the inconsistencies myself. That’s why you just need someone else–beta-readers, editors–to help you out. Using multiple beta-readers is a great strategy. Between everyone, your chances of some big inconsistency getting through are really really small. 🙂

  4. I am really impressed with the wealth of knowledge that is available on your blog. Being a new blogger and an aspiring writer I am learning so much from you. Thanks for positing such educational posts. Looking forward to more wealth of information and wishing you the best.

    • Oh my gosh, thank you so much for the kind words!!! I’m really excited to hear you find the blog helpful. That’s the reason I write it. 🙂 I wish you all the best as well. Good luck with your writing aspirations!!! 🙂

  5. First of all, great article and great advice. I haven’t gotten all the way through your blog, so when I saw this on Twitter I had to check it out. Second, this is spooky – I was just thinking this myself this morning, because I *don’t* simply do a read-through and take notes. I always micromanage myself and the book and edit as I go. Thank you!

  6. Pingback: One does not simply | The D/A Dialogues

  7. Pingback: What Authors Gain When We Edit After Gaining Some Distance From Our Work | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

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