Friday, December 4, 2009

First Drafts

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend last week. I was off in the great Midwest visiting family hence the lack of a post from me last week.

This week I’m going to talk about something that I’m currently going through – having people read and critique the first draft of a finished product. It’s been said that there is not an author who ever existed that ever had the first draft of their work published. And boy howdy is there a reason for that! First drafts are messy, full of not only enough grammar mistakes to send any English teacher into fits but plot holes and random notes and, at least for me, places where there’s this: (put something else here).

First drafts are safe, because really the only people who should ever see them are you and your critique group (and sometimes, maybe even they should be spared). First drafts really should be one long plot summary. You lay out your story in the first draft and then go back and fill in the blanks, tighten it, see where maybe your story should start in a different place.

First drafts are opportunities I think to make a good story even better and then let the subsequent drafts make it the best story you can come up with. I know editing is a long and tedious process, sometimes even more so than coming up with and writing the silly thing in the first place. But at least at this point, I’m enjoying it. I’m appreciating my critique group pointing out the good and the not so good and making me see things in my story that I didn’t notice before.

We’d all love to think that the very first go around we have the best story EVER but the reality is we don’t. No author does. Oh I’m sure some come close but I think that comes with time and practice and success.

How do you feel about first drafts? What about editing? Do you enjoy the process or do you find it tedious?


Sheila said...

I generally don't like letting people see my first draft of anything. I at least insist on doing what I call "dusting and vacuuming" first. By that, I mean correcting spelling/grammar/formatting errors, as well as fixing major/obvious inconsistencies (i.e., heroine had green eyes in the first chapter, blue in the second, hazel in the third...). And, of course (since this is me we're talking about), the removal of the first bushel basket of excess commas.

But the plot holes don't usually get fixed on that pass. Often, I can't see them yet -- it's just too close.

As far as editing, when it's for grammar/spelling/punctuation, I quite enjoy it. The part I hate is when people tell you whole sections have to either go or be majorly re-written. Then it's a pain in the backside!