1. David Turnbull
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    David Turnbull New Member

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    First draft crap-ness

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by David Turnbull, Jun 30, 2010.

    In the last week or so I've finally committed to writing a novel mostly for my own personal pleasure. There's a set of my characters that have been floating around my head for a while, so I feel like I'll eventually burst if I don't get them to do something.

    Now, I've done a fairly solid outline. It's vague enough to allow for flexibility as I write, but detailed enough to have interesting twists and turns to keep me motivated. But what I'm really struggling with is letting myself write a crap first draft.

    I tried to take the slow approach, perfectly crafting each chapter before moving on, but then as the story would develop a chapter later it'd inevitability make something in the original chapter not make as much sense. So I have to keep the story moving as quickly as possible, but this means each scene ends up being quite short (less than 500 words), with very simple dialogue, and crude, poorly worded descriptions, such as:

    Even though I know rewrites can fix a lot of the crap-ness, I can't help but feel I'm wasting my time as I scan what I've written and it feels so lifeless. But I know if I slow down the first draft will never be finished.

    I guess my question is, how bad are your first drafts? Are they, like mine, on the scale of near-vomit-inducing? And could anyone perhaps share a paragraph or two from their own first drafts to show that maybe I'm not in fact alone?
     
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can check out my fanfic/fictionpress accounts(both Unit7) to see how bad my first drafts are. I would write them and then post them. So aside from maybe a few changes they are pretty much in their raw forms. lol
     
  3. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first drafts are vomit worthy. So were my second drafts, but i liked my story and stuck with it. What's scary is i thought they were okay-ish back then. That alone makes me want to vomit. It's normal.

    Try writing a few different projects at once. Try different things until you notice something you like. Don't limit yourself.

    If you want to see some first drafts, go through the review sections and read peoples work. (Reviewing peoples work is one of the best pieces of advice i can give. Spend a little time over other's work, over time and you'll learn many many things which'll help you improve.).
     
  4. CaKsTeR
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    CaKsTeR Member

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    I tend to have the same problem as you; I take way too much time perfecting my first draft. I would almost consider it a bad habit, although I feel as if going slow with your first draft removes some of the need to have so many revisions later on.

    I guess it's a matter of preference and how you write.
     
  5. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Mine used to be (actually, far far worse than the example you posted). Now they are pretty much 90% there in terms of being as good as they'll get. How'd I do that? Kept writing, kept learning. I see the last 20 years as practice, with most of what I wrote then being unusable drek. The more I write, the more I get things clearer and cleaner the first time through. If something fails, I don't bother with editing because I believe that polishing crap just makes polished crap and it is better to just toss the draft away as a learning experience and start over, so I toss it and start again taking what I've learned and hopefully making new mistakes instead of old ones.

    That's my process though. Might not work for you. Just my two cents. Basically, if your drafts suck, keep writing. You'll get better.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    My first couple novels were terrible. So terrible I've hidden the rough drafts and made my boyfriend swear to burn them in the event of my untimely death so that no one will see them. I also made him promise not to read them on top of burning them if I died. :p

    The most recent novel I am working on is by far my best. :) I'm actually kind of proud of it. I've never been all that proud of my writing before. I know it may not be the best out there but I believe it's pretty good and it will just continue to get better with time.
     
  7. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    The first draft doesn't always have to be crap.

    I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I always try and make my first draft as good as I can get it. There's nothing wrong with it, but in three or four years time you may look at your work and think what was I doing. I've recently looked over a few of my old pieces and they are total garbage. This is only natural, as your writing skill improves so will the quality of your work. All you need to do is continue practising writing.
     
  8. Tom Gold
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    Tom Gold Member

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    David,
    Not sure this will help as like you I am still working on y first book. The first third of it was written with painstaking effort in every word and I'd sometimes spend hours on a single paragraph.

    A couple of weeks ago I tried a new tack by setting myself the goal of a thousand words a day and concentrating only on the major events and set pieces of the story. This has meant that a good deal of what I'm writing is indeed crap but it is also providing all the raw material for a final edit. It also means that I can make productive use of just a few minutes writing time. Using my initial method it would take half an hour just to get started again.

    Its very pleasing to see the word count increasing every day even if the edit process is going to be harder work.

    If I was building a house I'd want it wind and water tight before I fitted the kitchen and tiled the bathroom.

    Hang in there!
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find my writing bad too. You can't be worse than me. :p
     
  10. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    I spend a lot of time on my first drafts to make them as good as possible. The downside for me in doing this is I feel I'm writing way too slow. I'm debating on just writing whatever comes into my head to get some sort of flow going, no doubt this will add some "crap-ness" to the first draft, but hopefully it will move things along faster.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this method compares.
     

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