Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hurricane First Draft

I think all writers have a favorite part of writing and all have a least favorite part.

My favorite part is revising. I like stepping back and being able to look at the big picture, find the threads that I didn't even know were there, fit in new puzzle pieces and slide some old pieces around to make a richer, fuller, more satisfying story.

Which stands to reason that I hate first drafts. With a passion. More specifically, I hate outlining first drafts. Because my least favorite part of writing (but the part that I feel like is the skeletal structure of any good story, especially for children) is plot.

Now, I actually am an outliner and not a "pantser" (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). I find I need to spend time just focusing on plot points, what happens where and my story arc. It's the only way I know of to finish the dreaded first draft. But it's like pulling teeth.

Speaking of pulling teeth, cliched metaphors are often innocent bystanders to the disasters that are my first drafts. So are wordy sentences. And the word "really." This is where I have to stop and give thanks to my beta readers, the EMTs to my catastrophes, the ones who can seem to find the solid, sometimes breathing bodies underneath the mess. Also, the ones who love me anyway even after I make them read that drivel.

Writers out there, are there some usual suspects you always find sneaking around your first drafts, begging to be sniffed out and carted away? And what are your favorite and least favorite parts of writing?


  1. I am exactly the same with my first drafts. Often, it's only the thought that soon – SOON – I'll finish them and be able to start chopping them up and making them better that keeps me going.

    As for my usual suspects: pointless scenes that don't move the plot forwards, not enough foreshadowing for important events, and the word 'just'. Luckily, I have an awesome first reader (my husband) who will read my first drafts anyway, and then criticise kindly and constructively.

  2. I'm like you, I love revising. Yes, there are usually several thousand words that don't need to be there in the first place, but there are also some passages that are surprisingly good that I'd forgotten I'd written.

    But unlike you(and to my detriment) I don't outline. I mean, it's in my head but not on paper so I tend to get lost in the minutia of the story, things that don't really matter. I get sidetracked and off topic and end up somewhere else entirely. I had to chuck an completed chapter once because it didn't advance the story at all, even though there was some good writing in it (if I do say so myself).

    Wait, you have a wand, right? Find me a spell that will help me with my outlining, will you? Please? ;)

  3. Emma, 'just' is one of my culprits too!

    Suzanne, the spell you're looking for is "Plotificus Totalus." You're welcome. ;-)

  4. I think "just" must be a plague on writers everywhere. Just finished a polish run on my manuscript and lost count of the number of times I deleted it!

  5. I absolutely dread revisions; it is not my cup of tea… but its part of the game.

    Sorry, I haven’t had internet for a while, I am trying to catch up with all the blogs I follow.

  6. I love revising. My first draft of anything is almost always utter crap. Okay, it's ALWAYS crap. Every. Single. Time.

    I write extensive outlines. Pantsing is a great way for my first draft to stink even more.

  7. When I was young and naive, I said my story was "finished" after my first draft. During the first write through of my story, I was THERE in that world. And it was bliss. I had no idea how to revise a story, because once it was written I had a hard time imagining how it could be any other way. Now...I'm terrible at drafts and revising. =(

  8. I'm 100% with you, Shakespeare!

    Rain, if it makes you feel better, I WISH I felt the way you do about first drafts! It would make them so much less painful to write.