Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Know There's a Gem in There Somewhere...

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I, for one, am mainlining caffeine right now since I was up late doing revisions on my latest WIP, a YA book. So, it’s quite fitting that this week’s topic is “First Drafts.” The past several days, it’s become very apparent to me just how BAD my first drafts are. I’m not just talking awkward-sentence-grammatical-mistakes bad. No, I’m talking hanging-subplots-switching-characters-names-halfway-through bad. There are also lots of notes like: “Find way to acquire treasure,” and “Insert funny joke here.”

There are two main reasons why my first drafts are so laughable. The first is because it takes me awhile to “feel” my main character. So, the first 20 pages or so are usually filled with uneven voice and conflicting personal details. Then…something magical happens and I “know” her. So, by the time I’m done, the first twenty pages are truly cringe-worthy and nausea-inducing.

The second reason is that I’m not really an “outliner” type of writer at all. So, I usually have some big plot revelation halfway through that I need to weave in during revisions.

I really envy the people whose first draft is pretty darn close to their final draft. But I know I’d never finish a book if I did that. For me, the mental victory of just finishing (even if it sounds like a second-grader wrote it with a pretty purple crayon on some yellow construction paper) sustains me through the revision process. And the revision process is where I really see the story emerge, when the characters gain quirks through their struggles and where the emotional arcs come sharply into focus and begin to make sense.

So, I’m going to share a little secret I learned this week…

Come in close…

Ready?

I think I actually like revising my books. Like, almost as much as writing.

Freaky, huh?

So, if your first draft makes you want to bang your head against your laptop, don’t fear. I’ve come to view writing as sort of excavating a diamond—your first draft is when you pull it out of the ground (or wherever diamonds come from). The revisions are where you clean it off and make it shine.

4 comments:

Jillian Cantor said...

Interesting! I think my process lies somewhere in the middle between you and Tracy (but more about that Thursday)! And I agree that I enjoy the revision part, too. I think revision is such an important part of the whole writing process no matter how you get that first draft down.

Lesley Livingston said...

That was a really interesting post!

And - agreed - the longer I'm at this, the more I truly appreciate the revision process.

lisapatton said...

Maureen, Maureen, I'm with you all the way about revisions. When you get the right words, my goose bumps turn into the chills!

Tracy Madison said...

I love the revision process. It's probably my favorite part of the entire process. Well, other than getting that first call, lol.