I used to write fast. You have to when you write news and deadlines loom.
But with fiction, I tend to wallow. This is a bad habit. Everyone who knows will tell you to plow a straight furrow from Once upon a time to to ...happily ever after without looking back.
I can't do this.
I go back to the beginning over and over, like the last line of The Great Gatsby, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. I caress. I stroke. I coddle.
Often this procedure leads to more words. More words are not always good words. Sometimes it is hard to pick and choose the best word. Mark Twain, who always chose correctly, had this to say about that: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
I scrabble about for the right word. Sometimes there are too many applicants for the job.
Lately, I have been trying my hand at shorter pieces of fiction, novella length. It's been an interesting and entertaining exercise. I focus better. I indulge myself less. I play fewer games.
This is not to say I write quicker. I don't.
I still return to the starting gate time and again. Not always a bad thing for me.
In my current story, I'd given my heroine a broken heel on her designer boots and put her into a sweatshirt belonging to the hero. But if I hadn't gone back before moving on, I might not have realized that she couldn't go racing across an icy parking lot. Or enter a public place with certain telltale initials emblazoned across her chest. The concealment of the sweatshirt took the story in an unexpected direction.
Never saw that coming.
And I wouldn't have without a return to the starting blocks.
The good thing about the shorter length, though, is that I get to the finish line a helluva lot faster.