After my last blog post I started back working on my flash fiction pieces and I’ve realized something about my writing process: I write short. Meaning? I’m going for stories in the 750-1000 word count range and yet most of my first drafts (and second drafts, if we’re being honest) barely reach 600 words.
I’m really good at writing dialogue. I’m pretty good at writing action in between dialogue – you know, describing my main character doing the dishes, drinking coffee, or putting away something in between talking with the other character. I also like to think I’m okay at describing my character’s appearances, at least in my longer works, but not so much in my shorter pieces.
The thing I’m really bad at though? In both my novel and flash fiction? Description of place – setting, time period, smells, sounds – things that help ground a story in reality (even if it’s a totally made up place like in a fantasy or a sci-fi story).
Example: I’m working on a short story involving a party filled with superheroes. But right now (in draft #2) there’s little description of how people are dressed, if there’s music playing in the background, the type of lighting used, what mood is being created, etc. I just dive into dialogue and keep going for a full page before I divulge the tight-wearing “weirdos” (as my main character calls them – not me) at the event.
The good thing, I know this about myself because I’ve thought about it. I’ve studied my drafts. I went back through old stories, read what various writing teachers have told me. And yet, it’s still a constant struggle to do this during a first draft, second draft, heck sometimes a third draft is still devoid of most descriptions.
How does one fix their weaknesses? How do you guys fix them? Do you just not worry about it, write your first draft quick and dirty, then slowly revise making sure you add in things you know you’ve missed? Or do you consciously work at it right away making sure your first draft has all the right elements in it, so you can use your revision time more for polishing?
Is this something that will eventually get better with knowledge, study, and practice? Or will it be a career-long battle? What do you think?