Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Clean Copy

Clean Copy

Tonight I was running through The Idanha Hotel to put in the corrections Kris had found on her read, at least the ones I agreed with.

That was the book I wrote in seven days last week, remember?

Well, this time through I agreed with all of her corrections, mostly just typos, and what was even more interesting, this was the cleanest manuscript I have had in a very long time.

I normally do clean copy in my one draft, but this was noticeably cleaner. Kris only found about one typo every six or seven manuscript pages, and sometimes there would be no typos in numbers of chapters. Took me all of thirty minutes to do what many would call a second draft. (grin)

Now interesting. Seven days to write the book, the cleanest copy I have done. Hmmm, guess getting out of my own way and letting my creative voice drive completely not only allows me to write workable novels, but clean novels as well. Go figure.

Myths die hard, don’t they?



Limited only to 5 writers each class.

Class #41… May 2nd … Author Voice
Class #42… May 2nd … How to Write Thrillers
Class #43… May 2nd … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #44… May 2nd … Plotting With Depth
Class #45… May 3rd … Character Development
Class #46… May 3rd … Depth in Writing
Class #47… May 3rd … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #48… May 4th … Cliffhangers
Class #49… May 4th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #50… May 4th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy (NEW!)

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.

Full descriptions of the workshops and how to sign up under the Online Workshop tab above.


The Day

Writers lunch at 2 p.m. up at WMG offices, then I worked on workshop stuff until about 7:30 and then went to the store and then home by 8 p.m.

I cooked dinner, then got in here to do workshop assignments. Crossover week between March and April workshops, so took a bunch of time.

I did a nap in the middle somewhere, finished around 1 a.m.

Watched some television, then back in here around 2:30 a.m. to start a novel but instead decided to do the corrections in the last book and work on getting that issue of Smith’s Monthly ready to turn into WMG.

So after doing that and working a little on an introduction and looking for short stories to put in, the night was gone.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up the Smith’s Monthly and then get started on a new novel.


Topic of the Night: Clean Copy

Nothing really except for the interesting fact that the seven day novel was my cleanest copy ever. Go figure. Clearly my being surprised at that means I had another expectation, huh?

Even with me, the myths for some things remain deep and I just cleared out that old myth now as well.

But caution, folks. Don’t go telling any of the hard-myth believers that writing fast actually means writing cleaner and with fewer mistakes. That is so against what they were all taught in English classes in school, it would be like insulting their 10th Grade English Teacher.


Totals For Year 3, Month 9, Day 10

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 934

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 7,000 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,800 words 

— Blog Posts: 400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 3,900 words

— E-mail:39 e-mails. Approx. 3,700 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 204 e-mails. Approx. 14,100 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

If you would like to leave a tip just hit (Goes to WMG Publishing account, but I’ll get it just fine.)


  • Shantnu Tiwari

    Dean, I’ll second your comments.

    I recently got a comment back from my copy editor. She said if she got more books like mine, she’d be bored. In the whole novel she barely found a dozen typos.

    But like you, I had written the book in one draft. I did have a 2nd “draft”, but all I did was check typos in that (a 1-2 hour exercise).

    The less time I spend rewriting, the cleaner my text is. I remember when I did 5-6 drafts, there would be 3-4 typos/grammar mistakes on the same page.

    You have to see it (or experience it yourself) to believe it!

  • Jes

    Hmm…I think you just blew my mind. I was writing slower trying for a clean copy, maybe I need to rethink this. You’re never boring ?.

  • Mark Kuhn

    Baby steps for me today, trying to tune into the Creative Voice, pushing away the stress of the last few months. He is forgiving, that Creative Voice, I will give him that much, so eager to tell stories after being ignored for a while. For now, 500 good words is a win-win today.

  • Kevin Johnson

    I couldn’t agree more, but I have to laugh because I’m an English teacher in my nine-to-five. For middle school, not high school, but a teacher nonetheless. Every day is a balancing act between being honest or perpetuating the myths. My days are basically repeating “Those other English teachers are going to tell you such and such, but the real professional writers don’t do this…”

    Fortunately (Unfortunately?) I usually tend to be honest and kill some sacred cows for all to see.

    Faculty meetings and department meetings I try to keep my mouth shut. But it’s hard to fight the ignorance, Dean. So hard. Sometimes I almost chew my tongue clean off to keep silent. When I mention that I earn monthly royalty checks for my own fiction, it tends to shut them up, though. I don’t tell them how much, exactly (I do still have a day job, after all), but a check is a check to them.

    When I dare to be truthful I’ve had great success cultivating good teen writers. Kids love to hear that writing is just sitting in a room and making stuff up. I’m amazed adults don’t want to believe it.

    Next year, I finally get to teach a creative writing class and advanced creative writing class because I showed them my principal my books and asked nicely. I’m toying with the idea of lesson plan #1 being a kid-friendly Heinlein’s Rules. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Kevin, that is beyond cool!!! Thank you for sharing what you are doing. Who knows with kids what that kind of freedom will allow them to do going forward with writing and their imaginations.

      Thank you for fighting the good fight on this. Wonderful to hear.

  • B

    That’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to write clean drafts so I could release them sooner.

    How do you tell the difference between cycling vs polishing? It seems like it’d be a slippery slope between the two for those of us wanting to write into the dark but also write clean so there’s no dreaded editing/critical voice taking over.

    • dwsmith

      Cycling is done in creative, make it up voice. Fixing typos as you cycle is no big deal.

      Critical voice is when you hear yourself say that something sucks, is awful, needs to be polished. Never listen to that voice.

      But fixing typos as you cycle keeps you in the story in creative voice.

  • Prasenjeet

    Writing fiction and into the dark is fun. 🙂 It is really like painting on a blank canvas. I just have one question. When I finish writing, I re-read the whole novel to fix any typos or mistakes (clothing, names of secondary characters, etc) before giving it to my first reader. Do you do the same?

    • dwsmith

      Nope, I cycle back through smaller sections, like 300-500 words as I go, going back, then more forward, then back, all the way through. Then I am done.

      The idea of going back through a book after I have written it gives me the shudders, honestly. I do fix typos my first reader finds, but I never reread the book again. That’s why I can do that in thirty minutes or so.

      When you go back after you are finished completely, your creative voice is done and wants to move on, so you are fixing with critical voice. Caution. Fix in creative voice is my suggestion.

  • Gnondpom

    It is maybe not so surprising to write a clean copy if you write quickly. In non-fiction (like official letters), I also find that the slower I write (like re-reading the letter several times, trying to fix sentences so that they sound better for the reader), the more mistakes I make.

    It probably comes from the fact that I want to change slightly a sentence, while keeping the same global meaning, so I change just one part of the sentence. But for the other parts of the sentence I kind of still have the first version in my mind, and so I usually don’t see that the other part does not fit the part I’ve changed. For example I change a part making one noun plural for some reason, and I do change everything accordingly in that part of the sentence, but I forget to use the plural in the verb in another part of the sentence.

    Then the best way of seeing such a mistake is usually to get a fresh pair of eyes to read it (either another person or I can read it again another day, when I don’t remember the first version too well). Then I guess I’m probably using my critical voice.

    While it can be worth it for an official letter, when you do not want your voice to sound too loud – you just want something more “neutral” so that it sounds official – I guess in fiction it is better to stick to your own voice, and just go with the flow. And your subconscious knows how to spell, it is just when your critical voice is interfering and trying to change the sentence that this type of mistake appears.