Video: How to train your internal editor

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Writing Exercises

I have this theory when I teach writing, that it’s easier to learn things if you break them into separate techniques. One of the things a writer needs to learn is how to edit. It can be totally overwhelming, which is why you’ll hear the advice about “Turn off your Internal Editor” when writing.

I think that having an active internal editor can actually make writing faster and smootherĀ but trying to train yourself to edit and write simultaneously is a bad plan. SO here is a lecture from my “Writing on the Fast Track” class about how being in a critique group can help you train your internal editor.

Any questions?

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3 Responses

  1. Timothy Cramer

    “We have fishing, hunting, and a charming view of the sunsets. The only problems are the pests. You see, most places have mice or mosquitoes… We have… ” => the internal editor

    Great performance, Mary!

    I especially like the “How to react to / work with the critique received” part. The “airship captain” example is fun.

    And your example with “manically pacing” is very instructive. There is no way that you as an author could have foreseen such a problem.

    Your advice to focus on symptoms when giving critique is certainly a good one, but – as you now from my critique of “A fire in the heavens” – I’ve got some problems keeping away from prescription, especially with point A “disbelief” symptoms. My brain just works that way; I wouldn’t be able to tell that something is “unrealistic” without having a clear idea of what “realistic” means. (For me, realistic refers to authenticity, not accuracy.)

    When I watched the XMas episode of NCIS, “Patient Zero”, my reaction was not “that’s not how stuff – in this case disease control – works in the real world”, because, duh, it’s a freaking TV show, but rather “this is how stuff can be dramatized without being depicted unrealistically, this is what they should have done”. (Full disclosure: Nobody actually asked for my critique on that episode.)

    There are often, IMHO, basic standards on how to do certain things, and when somebody runs afoul of this standards, the diagnosis itself becomes something like: You are not doing X, as established by Y. In such cases, symptom, diagnosis and prescription are impossible to separate.

  2. Dana

    Wonderful and extremely helpful. Will be pointing to this link for my creative writing students this summer.

    Thank you so much for sharing this here.

  3. disperser

    . . . would have been better with puppets, but . . .

    . . . what is the framed picture in the background? It was out of focus, and I kept trying to work out what it was (might have missed some of the advice because of it).

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