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FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...] : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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SarcasticHawke489
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FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby SarcasticHawke489 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:17 am

So I just want to know, is it okay when your first draft looks really, really just... weird? I mean, yes, I know that first drafts are meant to be just a skeleton, but does your 'draft skeletons' seem just as empty as mine?
I write and the story flows where it needs to go, but all the actions and dialogues are so empty, emotionless and so quick that I almost hate them and I want to throw it away.

Almost all the scenes consist of the simple verbs and paragraphs and I don't bother to enrich them. Is this the way how first drafts are made, or does every writer use their own preference technique? Should I be more attentive to my first drafts or should I just follow the flow? It kind of makes me really worried how simple it seems. For example, when I make characters talk to each other, I don't add strong verbs yet; it might mostly consist of 'he said/she said'. Or I rather 'Tell' things first before I craft them into 'Show'.

Could you share your experiences, and could you advice me how should I start next drafts once I'm finished with the first one?
" Do I look like the leader of this merry band of misfits? "

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Brien Sz
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby Brien Sz » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:33 am

Without reading it, it's hard to know if it really is as you say or you are just being overly critical of yourself. My method is to put the draft away for about 6 weeks. Don't look at it or think about it. Then, take it out and begin to read and edit. You nay be surprised. When I look at the first draft again, I tend to find things I thought were good, were maybe not so good and vice versa. For me, I tend to have to trim more fat than add it. On a third draft, that's when the piece really shapes up - there's generally some more trimming but often there is more filling out a few areas than are thin - when I say filling out, I am not talking paragraphs of information - maybe a sentence or two or three, here and there. After the third draft, I give it to some beta readers and then make adjustments as I see fit. Generally, I go through 4-5 edits before I feel the piece is done.

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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby robjvargas » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:47 am

Slowly putting together a "replacement" forum at http://writerswriting.proboards.com.

It's still under construction, but come take a look.

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ostarella
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby ostarella » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:45 am

[quote="SarcasticHawke489"]So I just want to know, is it okay when your first draft looks really, really just... weird? I mean, yes, I know that first drafts are meant to be just a skeleton, but does your 'draft skeletons' seem just as empty as mine?

...

Is this the way how first drafts are made, or does every writer use their own preference technique? Should I be more attentive to my first drafts or should I just follow the flow?

...

Could you share your experiences, and could you advice me how should I start next drafts once I'm finished with the first one?[/quote]

I'm going to address the above parts of your post, because I think it's very important that new writers understand that there are no "shoulds" in writing methods. [i]None[/i]. When you're starting out, you experiment. You try doing it one way - if it doesn't work, you tweak it. If it still doesn't work, you tweak it some more or you try a different method. And you'll end up tweaking that. You keep doing that until you find the method that works for you and that book. You may find that it works for all your writing - you may find you need to work differently for the next book.

My personal method is to write one draft which is the final draft. I edit/revise/rewrite as I go. I don't move to the next paragraph, page or chapter until I'm happy with the current one. I don't want to finish the first draft - or 2nd or 5th or 10th - and then go back and try to fix things yet again. To me, writing more than one draft is akin to "bright shiny object" - I liked what I wrote the first time, I paid attention to what I wrote the first time, so why do I now think I should go back and change things because of some new idea? I'll use that new idea in a new story.

But that's how [b][i]I [/i][/b]work. It doesn't work for everybody. So - don't change how you're doing things unless [i]you [/i]don't like it, not because you think you're not doing it the way it should be done. If you can finish the story - completely, not just the drafts - then you're using the right method. If you're not finishing the story, then you need to experiment with other ways of working.
Last edited by ostarella on Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wdarcy
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby wdarcy » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:13 pm

My own method is very close to Shadowwalker's. I basically write one draft. I edit and revise as I go. For example, I always review and edit the previous day's work before I write something new. For my novel-in-progress I am doing something a little different: after I finish 10 new chapters, I go back and polish them before proceeding.

When I finish the entire draft, I do go back and edit it, but this does not entail producing a second draft. Again, it's largely polishing. I tighten the language, try to find stronger verbs, make the dialogue more natural, etc. I try to make sure each character's arc is consistent and convincing, and that there are no contradictions or redundancies. I also check to make sure there are no causality errors, that everything on every level always moves from cause to effect. Usually all this results in a lower word count. I don't consider this process revising, because never do I eliminate, add, or significantly change any scenes.

As I mentioned in another thread, I am what Steven James calls an "organic" writer. That is, I never plot or outline. I do research if and when it's needed. I begin with a general idea of what the novel is about, and I start writing. And yes, the process is very much like what Michelangelo described when he sculpted David from a single block of material: he simply removed everything that was not David. The story is already there, complete in every detail. I am simply uncovering it. I discover where it's going as I write. I discover my characters as I meet them. And when I've finished the draft, it's all there. Sure it needs polishing, but there certainly is no need to do a wholesale revision or a second draft.

This is the method that works for me. It won't necessarily work for everyone.

I might also mention that I see no point in putting my draft aside for 6 weeks, as Stephen King recommends, before I begin polishing it. I did that with my first novel manuscript, and I don't see that it helped any. But for some writers it might.

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"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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maplington
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby maplington » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:41 pm

In addition to what others have said, don't worry if your prose isn't too flowery. Many very successful writers have used a simple, straightforward vocabulary (Exhibit A: Ernest Hemingway). I think for many readers, an interesting premise, relatable characters and great plot go much farther than a lot of intricate language.

noob
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby noob » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:35 pm

[quote="SarcasticHawke489"]So I just want to know, is it okay when your first draft looks really, really just... weird? I mean, yes, I know that first drafts are meant to be just a skeleton, but does your 'draft skeletons' seem just as empty as mine?
I write and the story flows where it needs to go, but all the actions and dialogues are so empty, emotionless and so quick that I almost hate them and I want to throw it away.

Almost all the scenes consist of the simple verbs and paragraphs and I don't bother to enrich them. Is this the way how first drafts are made, or does every writer use their own preference technique? Should I be more attentive to my first drafts or should I just follow the flow? It kind of makes me really worried how simple it seems. For example, when I make characters talk to each other, I don't add strong verbs yet; it might mostly consist of 'he said/she said'. Or I rather 'Tell' things first before I craft them into 'Show'.

Could you share your experiences, and could you advice me how should I start next drafts once I'm finished with the first one?[/quote]
=========

there is a reason many pros call it the vomit draft

plughmann
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Re: FIRST Drafts [Is it always such...]

Postby plughmann » Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:37 pm

[quote="SarcasticHawke489"]So I just want to know, is it okay when your first draft looks really, really just... weird? I mean, yes, I know that first drafts are meant to be just a skeleton, but does your 'draft skeletons' seem just as empty as mine?
I write and the story flows where it needs to go, but all the actions and dialogues are so empty, emotionless and so quick that I almost hate them and I want to throw it away.

Almost all the scenes consist of the simple verbs and paragraphs and I don't bother to enrich them. Is this the way how first drafts are made, or does every writer use their own preference technique? Should I be more attentive to my first drafts or should I just follow the flow? It kind of makes me really worried how simple it seems. For example, when I make characters talk to each other, I don't add strong verbs yet; it might mostly consist of 'he said/she said'. Or I rather 'Tell' things first before I craft them into 'Show'.

Could you share your experiences, and could you advice me how should I start next drafts once I'm finished with the first one?[/quote]

Yes.

Many writers call it the vomit draft. Just pore out every thought onto the screen/paper.
The alternative is to work with a development editor and plan what needs to be included and how it fits together.

When you are through sort through it. Fill in holes, eliminate what doesn't fit. Rearrange so it makes sense.

Then write a good draft you can polish when you are done.

Finally edit it for SPAG and formatting and other low level items.


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