The truth about first drafts.

Next time I start the first draft of a story, this is going to be my opening line:

Dear Jeigh,

Because I've noticed that a lot of the things that I write seem to be more a conversation between me and my characters, or me and my voice (aauugghh, the vooooices!) as we pound out this story.  I can almost picture myself lounging in the sand with A and T, and T is like, "Oh, remember how this is a theme throughout the story?  So I'll just mention it here so we remember."

(And A is like, "T, you're so dang hot."  Because A can never concentrate when T is around.)

When I start to revise my first draft, I read these reminder things and think to myself, "T would never talk like that.  Or think about that in such a conscious way.  Let's make that more subtle, shalllll we?"

And there's always the stuff that's just thrown in at the end, because I remember how I wanted this really cool element or that sparkling prose, but really it just looks like I threw it in there offhandedly.  Which I did.  But move it over here, and oooh, look how that opens everything up!

So remember, first drafts are for writing notes to yourself, and letting your characters grow into themselves and add their input.  Then you can go back and see what really needs to be there.

And A, you're not looking too bad yourself.  Just sayin.


Luanne Hardy said...

My favorite part of this post is the fact that I know who A and T are. :)

Martinelli Gold said...

Ditto to Luanne.

I like how the inside of your head is a beach.

Julie M. said...

I love the way you put this. And I am so, so guilty of leaving notes. And giving updates, like, "Since the last time I wrote, this is what's been going on in my brain..." It's kind of a mess, but a good mess. :)

Michael Offutt said...

There is something wonderful about getting through the first draft. I sit back and have this moment of clarity where I realize I've actually completed something. Then I set it aside for a while and come back to it and think, "Wow...I may have completed something but this writing needs a lot of cleaning up lol." And then I spend the next six months revising. At some point, I think I get so nitpicky that I pick at individual sentences for hours.