Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on first drafts

Every writing venture is unique. One could be sheer bliss from start to finish: an exciting idea, words flowing onto the page faster than you can type them, an easy, breezy editing process…

But most drafts are not like that. More than likely, the idea you once adored becomes a stubborn plot that loves withholding important points from you; you can barely write two hundred words without screaming in frustration; and you put off editing altogether because you just cannot bear to reread that hot mess of a first draft. Not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything…

Sometimes stories don’t work out like you planned. I came up with the idea for my current project a year and a half ago, wrote about half of it, and shelved it because it just wasn’t happening. Now, a year later, I’ve picked it up again (with all the knowledge I’ve gained from writing classes, reading books, and just living in general) and everything just seems so clear. I massacred some plot points and stuck some new ones in their places, changed some characters, and actually took the time to figure out what I wanted the story to be. I was able to salvage quite a bit from the original draft attempt, so I didn’t completely start from scratch. It’s really nice to have a road map instead of hacking through the jungle with a machete (my previous writing style). Spontaneous writing can be really fun, but I’ve learned it’s a huge headache when the Spontaneous Idea Generator dies and you’re left with gaping plot holes.

It really is funny what a difference a year can make.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with first drafts? Take the first draft pledge!
(thanks to Sarah Enni)


  1. I love that you're bringing RFC back again. So many people seem to shelve projects for good, but honestly, knowing you - and your writing personality - this seems much more your speed. It's clear how dedicated you are to your characters and their journeys, and that's a beautiful thing.

    Can't wait to read this one day :)

  2. Hi Kaitlin, I write YA fiction too and I've been searching the blogosphere for like-minded lunatics. I'm working on a completing a first draft of a novel by the end of this summer and I'm forcing myself to sit at my desk all day every day, but I usually end up reading blogs just to feel like I've got someone to talk to! Plot holes are the bane of my life at the mo. Hope yours are filling up better than mine!

  3. Hi Emily! It's nice to meet you! I feel your pain about plot holes--I wrote my last project out of order, and I spent a good three months filling in all the less-exciting gaps. Good luck with your first draft! I'm trying to finish this one by the end of summer, too, so we'll suffer through the painful parts together. :)

    and Shari, I can't wait for you to read this one! It's coming along a lot faster than I thought (I'm sending you an email about it soon), so hopefully you'll be able to read it sooner rather than later! (hopefully before I go back to I dare make such a lofty goal?)

  4. Yay! We can go slowly insane together! I always write out of order. I wish I could start at page 1 and write to the end but it just never happens that way. And all the 'joining it together' stuff can be really DULL! Plot glue. It's messy, fiddly, and really not that much fun.


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