Thursday, March 24, 2016

First Draft Sucking

Some writers can sit down at a computer and belt out the best, most coherent story anyone has ever seen.  The words flow effortlessly across the page, and while they may have to go back in a tweak a sentence or correct a bit of punctuation, the basic framework of what they wrote will always remain intact.

Like most, though, I’m not one of those writers.

Sure, I’ve had that one book that required hardly any revision(Salvation Day), but the majority of my first drafts have sucked.  I look at Canidae and large parts of Schism and wonder how I ever deigned to think I had talent.  Then it occurs to me – they’re supposed to suck.  That’s what first drafts are for.

The shitty part of recognizing that a first draft sucks is the realization that you have to go back in and change it.  Well, you don’t have to, but if you want anybody other than your mom to say it was any good, it’s probably a good idea.  And knowing that you have that extra work coming after all the effort you put into that first draft can be demoralizing.  Who wants to go in and re-write their thesis?
But you need to.  And don’t go back in right away – at that point, you’re still too close to the work.  You need to wait several months so you can look at it with fresh eyes.  That way, you can pick out the parts that were truly awful and are in need of a re-write.  You can also better envision how that re-write will affect the rest of the story so you’ll know the scope of work you have to put in.  Sometimes it will be minor, bit other times it will require nearly re-writing the whole damn book.  I have three right now that are in need of such work, and it seem soul-crushing, but I know I have to do it because these drafts are nowhere close to ready for publication.
You have to swallow your pride and recognize that your first draft is likely to stink to high heaven.  If you can objectively look at what you wrote, you’ll be able to figure out when it really needs work.  If you’re incapable of that, then you have to have friends tell you what needs to be re-done, and that’s going to hurt.  A lot.  But in the end, it’ll produce a better book, and, hopefully, better sales.  After all, aren’t creating good stories and getting good sales a large part of the point?

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