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October 25th, 2007

Will I Ever Learn? The Stand Back Routine

As a writer there are many lessons you learn over time. Aside from things like grammar and following submission rules and a few other things, a lot of the items you have to know about concerning how to write can be somewhat fluid and dependent on the individual. Some revelations just have to come to you, sort to speak.

Though it took me a while, there's one lesson that has proven itself time after time after time. Even so, I stupidly still find myself every once in a while ignoring it. And it has comes back to bite me every single time I have ignored it. For the sake of this post, I guess I will call it the Stand Back Routine. (If any of you have a better name, do share! This one is somewhat of a mouthful.) :P

The Stand Back Routine is something I try to do with every work I create. Once I've written it and edited it once or twice, I stand back, give the short story a week or two, if a novel, a month or more, then once my brain's buffer has dumped, I can do a final edit and catch any of the little things I missed and wouldn't see otherwise.

For the brain buffer to be emptied is an incredibly important step in making sure a story is all that it can be. The subconscious is a tricky animal and while it thinks it's helping you out, as an author, it is actually not letting you do your work correctly when that buffer is full. Being so close to the work, the subconscious will automatically fill in missing words, will supply information you have inside and incorporate it into what you are reading, letting you miss the fact you never actually stated that very information for the reader! Sentences that don't flow will appear to and things that don't jive will actually seem to as well.

By standing back and allowing the brain time to dump the buffer, you can then look at your work again with a less biased light (or auto brain filler). The errors will be more apparent, the lack of information hopefully leap out, your editor cap more capable of doing what you want it to.

Of course, I, like most people, get very excited when something is "finished". Sometimes standing back feels unnecessary and superfluous or just getting in the way! You're just too excited to get others to look at it, or deadlines are looming and you can get this sucker out to the writer's group just in time for the next meeting if you skip this step, instead of having to wait a few weeks or months to put it before the group. (Or in my most recent lapse, loading the latest Supernatural fic to fanfiction.net without waiting that crucial week!) ARGH!

Why can't I learn? I knew better - Oh I definitely knew. I've been bit before. And yet there I went again, thinking all was good to go! But I knew, deep down, I knew I had been bad. I kept getting urges to go read it - which if I had done my job right, and gone through it enough, I wouldn't want to be looking at it as I would have had my fill while making it right! So last Friday, I went and took a peek.

Within the first paragraph I was cursing. By the end I was beating my head against the wall. Uselessly asking myself (as I have every time I've done this): what had I been thinking?

So I went through it again and made it better. Something that would have happened in the first place if I'd had the patience to wait. Now, however, due to my lack of control, I could do nothing to take back the impressions or wrongness picked up by those who'd already read the story before it was fixed. I tell myself I won't do this again - but I know better...

Oh the agonies involved in being a writer.... or just being my usual stupid self. lol.

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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