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The Five Stages of Writing: inktips from Veronica Roth

Posted by inkpopbecki on June 10, 2011

She maybe a debut author, but Veronica Roth’s hit book Divergent has taken the book scene by storm. Racing up the charts, it was a bestseller its first week on sale. So what advice does she have about writing? Write, write and write some more!

My tips involve a series of stages.

STAGE ONE: Word Vomit. (Sorry for the graphic image, there.) Just write. Do not reread what you’ve just written, even if you don’t remember it and you want to check it for the sake of consistency. Don’t do it! You will be tempted to edit, and pre-draft-finish editing is the enemy of writing progress.

STAGE TWO: Let it sit for awhile. This is a good time for you to reconnect with friends and family you may have neglected while writing, and to recharge your writer batteries, so to speak. Not writing is as important as writing—go out into the world and remember how interesting it, and the people in it, are.

STAGE THREE: Reread, and make notes. I prefer the Microsoft Word in-text comments, but I have also used notebooks. I try to write down big, plot-or-character shifting things the first time I reread. Like “remove this character,” or “the end has to happen differently” or “set up this huge plot element earlier in the story.”

STAGE FOUR: Rip Draft to Shreds. The phrase “murder your darlings,” (meaning: the stuff in your manuscript that you love best is probably the stuff that needs to go—and you have to be willing to get rid of it) has been important to me in developing as a writer. I try to make it a big, dramatic event wherein I save my old draft, copy-paste the text into a new document, and start deleting huge sections of text. It hurts, but it’s oddly liberating. The story can become something new now. Something better than it was before, something it couldn’t become if you clung to everything.

STAGE FIVE: Start writing again.

Veronica Roth is a twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate of Northwestern University’s creative writing program. While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become  Divergent  instead of doing her homework. Now a full-time writer, she lives near Chicago.

3 Responses to “The Five Stages of Writing: inktips from Veronica Roth”

  1. Ellen said

    Great tips! Definitely agree with stage four. I always save a new draft, and number it, before I cut anything. Thinking that I will love the cut scene so much I will HAVE to go back and add it.
    But you know? I never do… 🙂 hehe

  2. Wildgreenskittle said

    That’s similar to what I do now, and it works wonders. 😀 And I’m in the middle of reading Divergent right now, and I’m loving it!!

  3. Mrs.D said

    OMG! OMG! OMG! SHE’S ONLY 22?! Veronica Roth’s work is AWESOME!

    Erm,yeah, so, thanks for the tips. I totally needed them!

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