Sunday, 27 January 2013

On Completing a First Draft



This will be me for the next few weeks as I whip out my editorial lightsaber and set to work on my MS, hacking and slicing and hopefully not severing any vital limbs. Because of course I have an editorial lightsaber. (I do not have an editorial lightsaber.)

But that's right - this means that the first draft of my new MS is complete.

This MS has been so far out of my comfort zone that it's taken me a lot longer to complete this draft than any other manuscript to date. It's been...*counts fingers* about 6 months. In that time I've changed the POV, completely reworked my characters, fixed lots of significant plot details, and changed the title about 4 times (this happened early on because I hate not having an 'official' WIP title.) Next time, I'm going easier on myself. (Yeah, right.)


What a first draft looks like for me

  • Full of plot holes the size of moon craters. If a new plot thread occurs to me several chapters after the point where I should have introduced it, I won't necessarily go back and write that in when I'm trudging through a first draft - I'll make a handwritten note to 'go back to ch14 and add in the bit where Miss Schwarz says something creepy about Sky knowing where her missing son might be', and then continue writing as though that's already been added in. The joining and smoothing out of the new thread will happen in the next draft.
  • One hot mess of cliches. The reason things like the waking up intro or the awkward girl moves to new town plot device or the hot new boy walks into class scene have become cliche is because they have been proven to work. That intro puts you right into the MC's head. That plot device lets you throw in the conflict right away. That hot new boy scene lets you see him through the MC's eyes. BUT, they're cliches. I don't want my writing to be riddled with the same things other writers have used over and over and over again. So these will also be given some stern treatment during editing.
  • The black hole of adverbs, clunk, and other no-nos for slick writing. Some I'll catch when I'm editing, some my CPs will school me on, and some will inevitably make it through the editing gauntlet to be face-palmed over later.

Next comes the part most writers groan about: the dreaded revisions. But for me, editing is a relief. This MS is a complete thing now, no matter what I do to it, so there's a certain freedom in that. I'm allowed to step back, squint at it critically, and push it around like a mean Jedi.


Then I'll run back to it with bandages and lollipops and promise never to be mean again if it will just play nicely and be good.

So between now and my beta deadline in a couple of weeks, that's what I'll be doing. Wish me luck!

What do your first drafts look like? Got any wicked techniques that might help me with my editing? PLEASE TO SHARE.


10 comments:

  1. Good luck! I'm at first draft stage with two short stories and I'm trying to remember why I wrote them - to what point do they serve and what message - and try not to lose that, or try to make it more clear in the edits. Tis not easy :D

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    1. Absolutely agree - it's easy to lose a clear idea of purpose! Good luck to you too, Ruth :)

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  2. lol I'm loving your jedi moves ;)

    I'm in the same process... though I've been going back and forth in changing my POV in the WHOLE MS too. I'll try to salvage it in first person for now while I slice and dice, if not to third person it is. What POV did you change to?

    I just came across your blog... you had me at editorial lightsaber lol

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    1. Hi S K

      Thanks for following! I changed this MS from 1st to 3rd person, and I think it works much better now, though 1st is my groove when writing. I think writing in 3rd is why it's taken me so long to finish this draft - took longer to find my voice with it. Good luck with yours!

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  3. Congrats on finishing your first draft! I, too, love revisions. I love 'having written' and being able to play with it, enhance it, find the gold in it. Best of luck to you in your revisions, and thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Thank you! Glad I'm not alone in my love of editing ;)

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  4. Oh, the JOY of finishing the first draft! I just finished one myself, and I am so. damn. relieved. I wish I had some awesome techniques to share, but really, a lot of it comes down to search and destroy-I over use a lot of basic words (but, that, just, etc)so I look to eliminate those, and often I end up re-writing the sentence so it sounds better. But that's the extent of my (not-so) fabulous tips.

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    1. LOL, I like the 'search and destroy' approach! I'm terrible for using filler words too.

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  5. Your blog has changed, no? ^_o Melikey! Your editing technique is so much more refined than mine. Mine ususally involves: Stare at screen. Keep staring. Go for coffee.

    Lol :-)

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    1. Thanks Fiona! But yes, there is a LOT of staring/coffee involved in my process too ;)

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