Killing your babies
August 17, 2007

I think Faulkner wrote how writing was like that. Well, that was one of the things he wrote that did make sense. His other writing was as brutal as babies getting killed, well to me anyway, but I think we all know what he really meant.

It's emotionally hard for anyone to revise their creative work and I found it was hard with just a guide of mine for a game I sort of liked--Ultima I. I redrew the text maps as graphics and it took a few days before I rubbed the maps from the guide.

It was 50k. Now it's 20k. I can see myself wiping 1+ MB of text maps from my guides easily but I'm getting some good correcting done on the way as well. Stuff like level puzzle maps is probably best done in text, but some of the stuff that eats up space and which didn't have an alternative--well, it's got to go too.

Now maybe this will help me with the creative stuff.

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EmP EmP - August 17, 2007 (11:33 AM)
Me and VM use a similiar phrase when we talk about self-editing reviews. That phrase is 'killing your darlings'

And we're both awful at it. There's something so hard about banishing things your wrote into oblivion. Courage!
honestgamer honestgamer - August 17, 2007 (06:27 PM)
Orson Scott Card wrote the same thing, basically, on his web site. He gave examples of how it took him eight times to write the sequel to Ender's Game that takes from the viewpoint of Bean.

Anyway, I've started telling people that too. If there's a phrase in a review that I think is really clever and shows that I'm a fantastic writer, I usually remove it. The result is that a lot more people like my newer reviews than used to like my older ones. Don't remove the personality in the process--I'm still trying to find the perfect medium--but usually a cut is better than leaving in something you love too much.

As I've told people, people reading reviews want first and foremost to find out about the game. The really great writers that people look up to (like Zigfried and others) may write eloquently, but they do it AFTER they get the important details out of the way, not as a substitution.
aschultz aschultz - August 17, 2007 (08:54 PM)
I know what you are saying, or the spirit of it. I look back at some of my earlier reviews and realize I was doing something important with this sentence or that sentence. But it wasn't good writing.

On the other hand seeing something similar in someone else's writing is the only way for me to realize why it's weak. It's happened before and will again.
aschultz aschultz - August 17, 2007 (08:57 PM)
So much of writing(especially in reviews, which need a certain structure unless you have a moment of genius) can be about the stuff we have to write and the stuff we hope we can get away with if we don't watch it. It's tough to find peers in that respect who can give encouragement(needed) and straighten stuff out(needed too).
retro retro - August 20, 2007 (11:25 PM)
I used to be known for totally updating reviews from scratch once I improved and looked back on the old stinkers, and I remember you were one of the ones that inspired me to start updating old reviews when I got you to read one I was thinking of giving a facelift to and one (Rocket Knight Adventures I think it was?) I was totally happy with, and you said you could see what I mean, that the other doesn't have the flair that RKA does.

So I went and gave a total facelift to I don't know how many, the majority of my reviews I know, probably right at 100 of them if not more.

Editing is probably more essential for guides since they obviously help people on a broader scale. Updating reviews never felt like "killing babies" and I never felt that it took courage to do so, at all. The only thing that made me feel down about doing so was how many I had to do and knowing I'd never be inspired enough to get to all of them. But many (ok, most) of my best reviews are edits rather than first-timers, so I'm glad I did it. Gives me a sense of pride rather than a baby killer feeling, thankfully.
aschultz aschultz - August 21, 2007 (10:39 AM)
I found it a lot easier to knock off the next two than the first one. I just had so many to do and so much to cut.

With guides you generally add stuff not get rid of them. With reviews I generally assume I've made them as succinct as I can and I take more chances, and sometimes I look at it and say "Oops, I wrote *that* 3 years ago?" and know it's either that or not improving at all.

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