When I draft a story, I am almost always an underwriter.

I write less than I could; I write less than a reader might need to fully comprehend a character or setting. Then, when I go back and read over what I’ve read, I fill in some of the gaps. I add action or bits of description into sections of dialogue, I add description into action. At the same time I’m cutting, of course–I often tighten conversations two or three times–but mostly, I add. My zero drafts aren’t outlines, but they have some things in common with them.

Others are overwriters. To figure things out, they must write everything down. Every bit of the world they imagine, every action, they must put down, and figure out later if it’s needed or not. In the end, this works just as well, but it doesn’t seem to be my method.

Somebody out there has to be a “just right” writer, but I’ve never yet met anyone that would admit to it.

Related Posts: How To Write a Novel (in 72 Easy Steps!) and Zero Drafting.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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2 Responses to Underwriting

  1. Jenna Reynods says:

    I’m definitely an underwriter. My first drafts tend to read more like screenplays. Then, during revision, I layer in description, interior monologue, action, etc, whatever I need to thicken the manuscript.

    However, having said that, I’m also an overwriter in that I tend to put things in that, during the revision phase, I take out.

    A lot of repetition, things that don’t contribute to the plot or character arc, that sort of thing.

    So, I guess I’m a little bit of both. The revision process, then, at least for me, is balancing it all out.

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    The revision process, then, at least for me, is balancing it all out.

    Yes! Definitely.

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