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A dreadful printed first draft, and crumpled paper.

My first drafts are always terrible. Fortunately, dreadful writing can always be improved. The important part is that it’s written.

I interrupt my sequence of Worldbuilding posts to announce I’ve hit the 50,000 word mark for my SpoNoWriMo novel! I’m so excited. Though it isn’t an official NaNoWriMo novel, it was still a blast. My story isn’t finished yet, but the climax is in sight, and I think I’ll keep charging ahead until it’s done.

And so far, it’s dreadful.

Given that I’ve been pushing myself to write it and to not second guess my writing, the prose is far from stellar. It is definitely not something I want anyone to read, at least not until I give it a good round of revisions. Not only are there issues with the prose itself, but the story is somewhat disjointed by all the times I’ve adjusted things in the story without backtracking to fix previous scenes. I can definitely see where I need to improve as a writer!

A good portion of this manuscript will need to be pared down or cut out. When I’m writing (including drafting these posts) I tend to write down everything that comes to mind, when it comes to mind, and then take the concision knife to it later during the revision stage. This habit leads to a lot of repetitive fluff that can–and should–be removed. At the same time, I think the prose could gain from addition as well. I tend to write my scenes first by telling, rather than showing (an adage I won’t get into, since there are many writers who have discussed it far more eloquently than I could). Once I go back in for revision, I can take note of what I “told” and then turn it into action and illustration. This may become more simultaneous the more I write, but for now, that’s how I do it.

All writers seem to be different, and I’m always curious about different writers’ drafting and revision processes. Edmund Schubert wrote a great post today about different drafting processes, Writing Styles: Bashers vs. Swoopers. In short, he describes Bashers as writers who edit as they write, and Swoopers as editing after it’s all down. I think I lean toward being a Swooper, though I definitely have my Basher tendencies, which is the reason for my recent editing post. As for horrible first drafts, I love Anne Lamott’s chapter in Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, called “Shitty First Drafts.” It’s very inspiring.

“Now, practically even better news…is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts….I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.”

Well, that’s a relief.

Teegan

What’s your drafting process?

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