Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things I learned about Writing from my First Draft

At first draft, I'd have to say being chaotic is my method

After now having read my first draft from first page to last page, I've learned a lot more about me as a writer and about writing in general. I have to admit that it's surprising for me to actually like what I see on the page, because by rule of thumb I end up hating all my early efforts. Since "Crimson Cacophony" is actually a rewrite of an earlier novel, so I guess it makes a lot more sense to actually like it now that I have it refined. Still there is much to be learned from the book as it is.

1) Following scenes isn't the best way to mark chapters. My first chapter's 10 000 words long, which in a 90 000 long novel is, say, 1/9th. Makes you wonder how that happened in particular. Well, I wanted to have a little LOST moment with a parallel of the present along with the past and things got a bit out of hand. So, chapters are logical breaks in the story, but also need to let the reader breahe. That first chapter now is nine chapters long and the flow is better now.

2) I use characters as tools, but do not involve them much as people. Apart from the MC I have no clue how to use the others or if I do I just noted it and skimmed through their scenes to keep it going. I seem to have no idea how to better develop Matthew, the dude that spends 90% of novel time with my MC... YES, that will be troublesome...

3) After I hit 60% of the novel I become impatient and dash madly to the end. In short, I underwrite as hell. The beginning has been worked to perfection. The middle is so-so as I usually get stuck there, but after the middle as a milestone I lose it and sketch out the oh-so vital final chapters.

4) Writing a chapter and then editing it will NEVER ever work, because I usually get the story at the point where I also lose patience with writing the novel. I understand how all the pieces work together into one wonderful mush only after I'm near the resolution. It's a good lesson, since I entertained the idea to write and edit simultaneously not only once and I gather I need to drop that one.

5) First drafts are for sucking. Period. It's liberating to chant that and accept it. I wanted to edit as I wrote, because the MC internalizes in a very uptight and highbrow manner. It's a very hard to maintain voice, but as long as I know what I want, revisions shouldn't be much of an issue.

So these are my discoveries. What are yours?


Anonymous said...

As you said, the beginning is the best part, you begin to slip in the middle and the end a race to the end. I don't plot,only use a few notes as to where I want to go with the novel. It is a mess when I am finished, but you know what. I don't mind that.
There is a lot more to learn with each revision and I look forward to it.

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to underwrite the endings of my stuff too and really have to flesh it out.

Harry Markov said...

YEY. Now I don't feel like an utter one-of-a-kind in that regard. It maybe boils down to impatience.

I have to say that I do outline, but I am always open to changes. I go by feelings and let them do what they want to the story.

T.S. Bazelli said...

First drafts are for sucking. OH boy that's right! Mine is a disaster zone. I did have a rough outline, but that changed over time. Still, it was all very necessary so I could get to the core of the story.

Harry Markov said...

It's important that the core stays the same. The messy draft is the formation process of that core. The prototype. :D