Friday, January 22, 2010

Skinny or Fat?

I had to laugh when I read Elana's post on the QueryTracker Blog. CUTTING THE FAT is an insightful article about putting your manuscript on a diet (aka revisions.)

I laughed because the night before, Bethany and I had this conversation:

B: Some writers' first drafts are massive. They have to cut their word count in half when they revise.

Me: I think you and I are the opposite. We write the bones, then flesh them out with subsequent drafts.

B: I agree!

Me: So while our first draft is like a skeleton, other people's are more like a really chubby person that needs to go on a diet.

(Copious laughter ensues.)

So which kind of writer are you, SKINNY or FAT? And is there a middle ground?

41 comments:

WindyA said...

I've gone both ways with my projects. I've had a few that were probably twice as long as they needed to be and others that were sorely lacking in detail.

Haven't figured out yet what the right proportions are for me!

Nisa said...

I think my MS got in a car accident and require plastic surgery. In some parts, I needed to slash and thin it out and in others, it was skimpy and needed some meat.

Liza said...

Love the analogy, and I love Nisa's comment on the plastic surgery. I tend to cut, cut, cut. Maybe though, I should try liposuction.

Karen said...

Love that analogy! I'm a skinny minnie. ;)

Kimberly Franklin said...

Hmmm...good question. I'm not sure I can really answer. It seems I'm a mixture of the two. Maybe a "flinny". Some of my chapters are really bare bone, while other are much to long. : )

Have a great weekend!

Dominique said...

Usually I write skinny and have to flesh things out. My current project was pretty chubby (10k above expectations), but I think that's because I floundered through the end. I've since cut about 34K and am picking up from there. Will be much trimmer in 2nd draft.

Boudica said...

Definitely skinny. I can pretty much assume my first draft is half the size of the finished mss.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

LOL! I think I'm on the skinny side in my manuscripts. I must be making up for a lack of skinny in real life! :-)

Natalie Murphy said...

LOL!

I think I'm nicely in the middle. When I go back to revise, I dont find all that much that I need to get rid of... a sentence here or there, but not much more.

Suzette Saxton said...

Interesting... very, very interesting. And oh so funny - guess we have some "flinnies" and "skats" out there as well!

Scott said...

Skinny and . . . I have the same analogy with my books. Rough draft = skeleton, next draft = muscles, and so on, and so on through the various revision phases until I, well, flesh everything out. Sorry!

I always consider the rough draft as just getting the story down that I want to tell, and later drafts as the chance to develoip everything fully.

S

Carolyn V. said...

I am skinny. I always need to add more details in. I'm glad I'm not the only one!!!! =)

DL Hammons said...

When you look at it that way, I think I have a writing disorder. I'll spend one night binging, only to sneak back later and purge it. If I stepped on the scales while I'm writing I'd get seasick.

:)

Cheree said...

I guess I'm skinny. I always like to get the action out of the way that when I'm done I need to go back and flesh out the description.

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so overweight it's not even funny. So yeah, I'm fat. I deal with it.

:)

Wendy (aka quillfeather). said...

Sadly, I'm fat. My first draft was 180,000 words...yes I know!

It's now hovering at 80,000. Consequently the overload has gone into books two and three.

In hindsight, a silver lining :)

Southpaw said...

I was just talkin' about this too! I think I go with bones first, then flesh it out. At least is some areas.

Kristi said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I was feeling lonely in the 'skinny' category. I'm a bare bones 1st drafter and I'm currently fleshing it out in revisions. It's good to know I'm not alone as you often here more about the 'fat' side.

Jackee said...

Mine? A twig with big thighs. Thunderous thighs. So I usually have to give it liposuction there and beef it up in other areas.

Julie Dao said...

My stories usually start out with a nice love handle, because everyone could use a little padding :) I usually trim it down a bit in the revision stage though.

Kathy McIntosh said...

I had a big weight problem with my latest novel. Emotional weight: took classes on adding emotion and feeling and ended up with 110,00words that had to be slimmed down to 86,000. Weight loss surgery hurts!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

THis post makes me feel so much better about my scrawny first drafts! I'm not alone!

Melissa said...

Yeah, I'm a skinny chick too! I'm going to have to add a lot more description when I go back in for revisions.

Feywriter said...

I'm a skinny. Always have to go back in and add description.

Jemi Fraser said...

Chubby little old drafts happening here! Although this draft from nano is much, much, much skinnier :)

L.T. Elliot said...

My manuscripts of old were always fatties but now they're skeletors. Can't I find a happy medium?

dorkvader said...

YAY! I always thought I was doing something wrong because my writing is usually pretty skinny.
I'm not alone!

Elle Strauss said...

Skinny, no question. I always have to go back and ask the question, what am I missing here?

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Middle! My first draft is where I want it to be length-wise, then I take out big chunks and add big chunks ... writing bulimia, I guess.

#167 Dad said...

I'm all about fat. I let it pour onto the page - and then polish...
Either Twain or Hemmingway, I can't remember which, said, "It's not what you put in that makes great writing, but what you leave out."

Medeia Sharif said...

My first drafts have been both. The fat ones are easier to revise, because it mainly involves cutting. With the skinny ones, I have to create new scenes, which is harder.

Sarah said...

I'm fat and skinny at the same time. It's a real problem. lol. In some places I'm so skinny you can't see me. Then in other spots I"M HUGE. Sigh. Finding that middle ground is hard.

Sharon Mayhew said...

I usually start out chunky (I refuse to say the word fat). I liposuck out the unneeded information, and then rejuvinate (fill) in the areas that need puffing out a bit. I'm a plastic surgeon's dream...

Little Ms J said...

I write chubby and have to diet. I cut over 35k words on my last project and it didn't even phase me.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My novels hit the gym where they burn off fat and build up muscle. By the time they're finished the intensive training, they're able to slip into a two-sizes smaller pair of hot-looking skinny jeans. :D

Christina Lee said...

I am so glad to hear someone else is skinny! I had the same thought when reading Elana's post and so many others that talk about slimming down and cutting. Yeah, I write the bare bones just to get it down and then beef it up later. :D

Judith Mercado said...

Fat, definitely. Though, in fairness to me, the whole thing starts with something very skinny -- a simple question which defines what the characters are trying to resolve. Sometimes coming up with that one sentence takes up several drafts of its own. Once I have that question down, I allow myself to indulge in pages of sweets that later must be dieted away.

Kendra said...

I am without a doubt a skinny writer(not that I'm skinny, boy how I wish that were true!) and sometimes get overwhelmed with how much more my story needs to flesh it out. Sometimes I think it would be easier to be a "fat" writer.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm like a yo-yo dieter. I'm too fat, to skinny - up and down until I level off to a comfortable weight!

Suzette Saxton said...

It's been so fun to learn about all the different writing styles. I love that there are so many in-betweens. You guys crack me up. >:-)

Mandy said...

Cute post! I have to say I started out fat. I mean, SUPER fat. I was one of those writers that pared the MS down by half! It was horrible. But now that I know better, I'm hyper-aware of my word count and keep it right where it needs to be. Then I trim and add to balance out the scale!