Monday, 25 June 2012

Write Cold, Edit Hot

This quick, little post was triggered by a comment left by KM Lockwood on my previous post where she stated that she felt 'thick' for not understanding what 'write cold, edit hot' meant. I thought I would explain as that is the last thing I want to make anyone feel, particularly, as it is me that does things the wrong way round. It is apparently 'normal' for writers to write using every bit of purple prose they can think of and then have to edit hard with a cruel red pen which removes swathes of words. What results eventually is a highly polished piece of work.

Well I'm not normal. I can't do it that way. I have tried and failed miserably. What I do is write the bare bones of the story until it is complete and there is a solid plot. I call it writing cold. That in part is why I can write so fast (16,000 words in three days recently). But I then have to go back and edit hot. I have to add in elements of description using all the senses. Making sure there are some motifs  and subplots which follow through the story. Painting the picture so that the reader can see what I am seeing - or at least a version of it. Some might say add some padding to an initially thin story. The best analogy I came up with was doing some tapestry where you stitch all the outlines and only when you have done that do you go back and fill in the colour.

I am not saying this is the right way to do it. In fact, I don't believe there is a 'right' way to write. Instead I think you have to find what works for you. I found this out by trying the 'normal' way and struggling but if I hadn't tried it I wouldn't have known. You have to try things out before you settle into your own style of writing, I believe. It helps you become a better and stronger writer. Or that's what I believe anyway.

Well the music just had to be Carole King and Tapestry didn't it!


  1. This is such an interesting post, applying, I think, not just to fiction but to other writing as well - it would have been a great deal better for me if I had written my MA dissertation this way!! (As it was, it started off as not just purple prose, but positively rainbow!!!)
    I'll keep this in mind for future ref - thank you!!