Saturday, July 31, 2010

Placeholders: The Literary Version

So. Placeholders. There are several meanings for these babies, but the one I found pretty dead-on was this political version up on Wikipedia: a person appointed temporarily until a permanent replacement can be chosen.

Why is this definition dead-on? 'Cause I use a lot of placeholders in my first draft.

Think about it: you write for hours at a time, coming up with cool ways to describe things/events/emotions, and then...

You're stuck.

You know something awesome goes on that page, but what it is, you can't figure it out. Brain death sucks. So what do you do? Whip out that placeholder!

I write a lot of: "he/she glared", "a shiver ran down my spine", "my brow furrowed", "my jaw dropped", and tons of "almost as if". Do these make the final cut on further drafts? Not all of them. But they're my placeholders until I can think of something more original. They're my first draft weakness--I can't shake off the itch to punch in a "whatever, I'll fix this later" type of sentence.

Lazy? Yep. Never said I wasn't :)

How about you? Any literary placeholders you cling to during that first draft?


  1. Oh my goodness they've got a name!!Placeholders!! Brilliant! I use a lot of run on sentences. I know what I want to describe/do/say quicker than I can write so I just let rip on the page! Only to read my one sentence as one long paragraph with lots going on there. LOL!

    Sometimes I just write the dialogue too. I fill the non-dialogue stuff later on redrafts.

    I think I am liking this placeholder concept!

    Thank you! Take care

  2. Lots of my charters, glare, smile, shrug and smirk.

  3. Oh yes, I'm a fan of the placeholder. Although one of my placeholder names for a character ended up sticking. :)

  4. Interesting question. I'm sure I do a lot of placeholding, since I change so much when revising and editing. I just can't think of them now.

  5. I do exactly the same thing! My placeholders are just lame sentences that don't quite work. I'll usually revise them the same day, though. I chronically re-read as I write, which slows me down, but makes me feel better about the WIP. Speaking of which....I'd better get on those pages I owe everybody. I still need to find a title for AWESOME JAZZ SONG (a placeholder for my MC's awesome jazz song).

  6. I do that A LOT!!! My first draft is littered with those as I save my time for expanded description and deepening POV in the second draft. :)