How polished does your writing need to be in a first draft? Are you content just to get the story down, or do you labor over every word before you can move on?
Tag Archives: first draft
A few years ago, I remember reading that Ruta Sepetys did two years of research before she began writing her books. If she is the sort to keep a planning journal or story/idea wall, I like to imagine how pristinely organized it must all be. I don’t know her, so of course this is all speculation. But I can imagine these novel planning tools and they must be beautiful. Mini works of art.
I have actually attempted the plan-before-you-write method. For me, making story maps and sketching visuals in my journal are enjoyable planning activites. At the recommendation of my fellow WriteOwl, Stacey, I read some of Truby’s book and got excited to take my novel planning up a notch. It’s a great book!, but I confess I got as far as doing the activities in Chapter 1, before I began to feel anxious and had to put Truby down. The planning stage began to feel less creative to me and I wanted to “discover” my story as I wrote it.
So I did. With general plot prompts and a whole lot of sidebar notes to be dealt with later, I “discovery wrote” the heck out of my first draft. In doing so, I discovered a few things. One, that I have a lot of rewriting to do, because, two, as I wrote I realized new things about my characters and that began to change the course of the plot. I also learned that writing this way made me insanely happy and excited to work on my book.
There is a reason I like the “blank page” and the question “what is possible?” I live for the part of making something that is purely creative, exploratory, imaginative. But any form of art requires tweeking, editing and revision. That is where I am. The backdrop I’ve created, the first notes I’ve written need details, need depth.
In the aftermath of discovery writing, I can see the advantage of thoroughly planning one’s novel; I am sure I wouldn’t have as many notes to sort through. But I also believe we create in different ways. I need to be guided by whim at first so I can carve out the details later. For another writer, they may need the opposite. To each their own.
What say you? What method do you use to write a first draft?
If you read my last post, you know that I set some concrete goals to banish my spiral into a summertime slothfest. And for the most part it worked fantastically!
I was up almost every morning at 5:30, sometimes earlier. I can count on one hand the number of mornings I wasn’t. I kept my summer reading to designated times and used my post-its to set Continue reading
Today, for the first time, I’m doing a follow-up post to give an update on my latest get through the *#*!%** first draft strategy. The reason I’ve never done a follow-up post before is that none of the other gazillion methods I’ve tried have really worked, and I don’t like reporting negative results any more than does your average pharmaceutical company. But in my last post, My Key to Progress—Mocking, I wrote about my latest strategy which, at nearly three months in, is (pause for dramatic effect as triumphant music swells) still working! Continue reading