Monday, January 15, 2024

To Delete or Not to Delete?

Mary Gaitskill observed that it's not uncommon for her to have second thoughts about crossed out longhand text. Consequently, instead of hitting delete, she puts suspicious digital text into brackets, which gives her options. 

Gaitskill shared with The Believer (February 1st, 2009):

I’ve noticed that when I’m writing longhand, sometimes I’ll write something and I’ll go, Oh, that’s awful, and I’ll cross it out and I’ll write something over it. And frequently when I go back, I decide that what I crossed out was actually better. When you’re writing on the computer, you don’t cross it out, you just delete it. But now, if I’m not sure, I don’t delete it. Instead of making the revision, I just put it in a bracket and write my second idea, and I can look back and see which I think was better, because sometimes the first thing is actually better.

If there's some text that I'm not confident about deleting, I copy and paste it to the end of my document, which gives me options; however, sometimes there's text that I am confident about deleting immediately, and, thank God, I've seldom had regrets. 

But the question remains: To delete or not to delete? 

Monday, January 1, 2024

To Outline Or Not

Do you write outlines for your characters or do you let them develop (organically) on the screen?  

Per Advice to Writers, Walter Mosley prefers to discover his characters while writing; however, some of his writer friends prefer to use detailed outlines. Mosley reportedly said:

I have writer friends who spend a great deal of time outlining and detailing the biographies of their major characters. Through this process, I am told, they discover the motivations underlying actions taken by these players as they move across the stage of the novel [...] 

It is, however, not my way of discovery. I meet my characters the way I encounter people in life—at a place and in a situation where I have less knowledge than I’d like and am almost always, at first, paying attention to the least important details. After that, I’m in discovery mode.

In the end, one method may not be better than the other, but a writer may want to try both methods and choose the one that he or she finds the most beneficial.