Friday, November 6, 2009

Whipple and Jacobsen on First Drafts

Natalie Whipple of Between Fact & Fiction provides a series of tips about penning those first drafts. Excerpts:

3. Let It Fester
Ideas are great, but they're such little things when they first come. One character. A setting. Perhaps a premise. Whatever it may be, it's not enough to create a full on story, that's for sure.

If you were me, you'd do more nothing while it grew in your brain. You'd let the characters start talking to you about their lives and world and what they want most. Then, when your MC finally delivered the first line, you'd start writing. ...

4. Research
More likely than not, you will have to research something to write your book. Even in fantasy, it's important to create a verisimilitude -- it has to feel real. ... Besides, research is an amazing way to grow those baby Ideas too. There have been many occasions where by reading boring stuff (like the history of aluminum [dead serious]) I've had HUGE epiphanies about my stories. ...

5. Write The Freaking Book
A lot of writers have absolutely no problem with Tips 1-4, but then they sit down to write and glaze over.

"I have to...what? Put words on paper/screen?" Panic sets in. Once upon a time starts to look like the most brilliant opening line on the planet. ...

It's scary. You are investing so much time, and it may never pay off. I think that fear is one of the major reasons people get stuck on the first draft ...
Read the whole thing. Oh, first drafts, how I hate thee! Let me count the ways. You cause me to question my skill, talent, drive, apprehension of basic grammar and spelling, originality of thought, depth of comprehension and fundamental sanity. Unfortunately, they're just a part of the craft. Natalie's suggestions about how to muscle through the awful things -- "If you don't invest the time, it will never pay off in growth or cash" -- help, though.

So does a post by Writing, Clear and Simple's Roy Jacobsen on
the makeup of one's creative DNA. Arguing that there are basically two types of writers (those who love jotting down the free-for-all of their first thoughts and those who enjoy editing them down to size), Jacobsen concludes, "Whichever type of writer you happen to be, there's no point in beating yourself up because you find either writing or editing to be a thing of dread. Take advantage of and revel in what you're good at, what you enjoy; learn to work through the things that are harder for you, using trickery if necessary."

(Picture: CC 2009 by
juicyrai; Hat Tip: Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent)


pattinase (abbott) said...

Letting an idea simmer helps me. Sometimes my unconscious writes the story with my conscious even realizing it.

Loren Eaton said...

Ditto. A healthy space between drafts give me some compositional breathing room. What amazes me is the number of differences between those drafts.