Tag Archives: alone

Live vs. Private

When it comes to writing, I know two versions. Writing with an audience while the words flow, live, in the moment, and private, when I do it on my own and go over the lines and dialogue carefully, constructing it to as near perfection as I can.

I’ve been musing over it idly for the past week or so, the differences between the two and how they feel. Some stories are just better when they’re live, when someone sees their development and how they change and taper and what you create on the fly, and you can see their feedback as you feed them written word. They are the stories of the moment. They have a lasting power as being right there.

Other stories, however, are best told, written in private and edited and preened and gone over a dozen times. They’re better when you can hold the full copy in an e-mail or a few pages in a journal somewhere. They read better as a cohesive piece, all at once.

Both have their merits. I like to write at Friend a lot because it helps me shape something while I’m thinking about, and also because I enjoy watching how he reacts. He also has an input, throwing ideas at me while I go. Sometimes it’s just because I’m too impatient to write it all in one piece, and I write faster when it’s at him instead of a full piece for him.

Usually, he’s my only audience. But that’s when private pieces come more in handy, if there’s more than just him that wants to see the piece or that I need to show it to. The traditional, cohesive piece in one place is easy, and reliable to find. It also lets me go back and scrap it if I decide it isn’t what I want.

I’ve had pieces I’ve worked on for days and ended up throwing in my scrap heap because re-reading it showed it just wasn’t working. I could try and try but there was no making it happen.

Then again, I’ve had live pieces I’ve started and had to stop early because it wasn’t coming out right, too. But jumping in on the moment and running with what you have spontaneously, improv-style, free-style, helps develop swiftness, I think. When you put yourself in a spot where you have to come up with something immediately, you get creative.

I don’t think I really prefer one or the other, though maybe there’s a bias toward Live, but they both have their ups and downs. It all depends on mood. But however the mood strikes, let it take you wherever it wants next time.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: What’cha Got There?

Sometimes, we write ourselves into stale parts of the story, but we need to add length or depth to it still. Among many other things, if you have two characters together, you can indulge in a 20-questions conversation, or have someone get especially inquisitive about what they do on their off time.

While it adds to wordcount, it can also help you flesh out parts of the characters and their personalities, even if it strays somewhat off topic.

Find something related, or not, and jump on it. Are they in the middle of an action scene and can somehow wiggle in a pause? Or are they on a break from work or their typical antics and trying to relax? Maybe they’re reading a book in the middle of a coffee house and are being decidedly reflective about something– interrupt it. Have someone sit down beside them and ask them what they’re reading.

This also works for conversations that need to last but you’re running out of steam with. Find a different direction and run it as long as you can, until you find a way to hook in.

For a more specific prompt , you can start with, “So about that _____.”

– The Novice Wordsmith