Thursday, June 16, 2016

First Draft Madness

Salvation Day was easy, if not a bit misleading.  By far my favorite and best work, it came out easily, and although it required a little revision, it was nearly close to complete when I finished it.  I thought that this would surely be the pattern for the rest of my books.  Arrogantly, I even dared think, Yep, I’m that good.

Wow, reality has a way of slapping down that conceit.  Hard.

Although I’ve gotten close on a few pieces of work since(Akeldama, Wrongful Death, Homecoming), nothing has come out in as polished form, and some are in need of total revision(Canidae, Schism, and Fight or Flight come to mind).  They’re essentially a barfing of words and ideas that, while great potential stories, are nowhere near ready for primetime.

I think this is one of the hardest things for writers to get, that the first thing we poop out on paper isn’t a grand masterpiece that everyone should instantly love.  This requires an objective eye and a willingness to sacrifice one’s ego in order to recognize the truth.  And the truth is that most first drafts stink.  However, that’s why they’re there.

Rewriting a draft is one of the reasons putting out a novel is hard.  Writing a book in there months isn’t hard if you can concentrate on the task at hand.  Unfortunately, rarely does that first draft pass muster for what’s readable.  So you have to wade back in and create a second draft.  And sometimes a third.  And sometimes a fourth…

But why?  I think it’s because your initial draft is so raw.  You know what you want to say, but you can’t quite get it right.  You have to polish and scrub and let others tear it apart before it’s something an audience can enjoy.  If first drafts becoming successful was the norm, then we’d have a lot more writers out there.  However, what we more have are writers who think their first cut is enough, and then they get all shocked and shaken when people think it’s crap.

Don’t despair over your first draft.  Write it freely, without a care in the world, and recognize it will need a lot of work most likely.  But the honing that comes later marks the difference between an amateur and a professional.  Which would you like to be?

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