Friday, June 21, 2013

The First Draft

A long time ago, when the pyramids were still young (if anyone gets that: cyber cookie), I wrote a little something about the Inner Editor. As a quick summation: I talked about the little voice in most author's heads that tells us plot lines, characters, etc and sometimes tells us we suck. I also admitted to loving my Inner Editor and that hasn't changed.

What I did mention in there that I kind of forgot about was that first drafts don't always suck. And quote: "But not all first drafts have to be big piles of crud. I know, I know: BLASPHEMY! Every first draft is CRUD! Cue the pitchforks and all that. I disagree that all first drafts are crud but more on that another time."

This is "another time." Yeah, it took half a year (or more) to get there. Deal. ;)

Anyway, I am under the firm belief that not all first drafts suck. Now, I'm not saying that all first drafts are perfect. I'm not saying that any author who writes more than one draft is wasting their time. I'm simply saying that the "all first drafts are crap" is perhaps wrong.

The first draft is that stepping point. It's the first thing you've done with the concept, the characters or the scene. For some it's a rushed thing that gets completely scraped when it comes time to write the second draft. For others, it's a thing that with a few edits (simple removing/shifting things around) can become the final copy.

Not all writers write the same way. Some feel that they have to write multiple drafts, while others can get away with writing only that first draft. Those that fall into the second category then go on to remove or add scenes before giving the whole thing a final edit then whacking an editor with it.

Is a writer who can get away with writing only one draft any worse than a writer who needs more than one draft? I don't think so. All drafts have one thing in common: we're figuring out how to get the story from our heads to the page in the best way possible.

What I believe is that it's not about drafts. It's not even about how you approach writing. It's all in practice. I've been writing for well over a decade now and my writing style improved significantly in the past, oh, three or four years. Why? Because I wrote more.

The more you write means the faster you figure out what works and what doesn't. It means the faster you find you personal voice. It means the less drafts you have to write. That doesn't mean that some of the things I write won't get more than one draft. Most of them are at first draft stage and being honest, they're similar to a second or third draft. This means my second or third "drafts" are merely me adding or taking things away. I won't fully scrap any of my newer stuff. Besides that, spelling, grammar and consistency have to be checked but most of my first drafts are pretty solid.

So, what do you think? Am I being my typical verbose self and rambling on crazily about something? Or is there some merit to "not all first drafts are crap?"

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