1. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    First Draft going terrible

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by drifter265, Feb 2, 2013.

    So I have the plot in my head and I want nothing more but to get it on paper. I'm currently writing the first draft after months of preparation and I'm looking back over it and just going, "ughhh.." Is this the feeling all writers get after writing their first draft? Do I give up? Learn how to write better? Or just keep going until I'm done and am staring at a crappy first draft with having to be stuck with the dreaded process of editing?

    Also, what if I have finished the first draft for a chapter but then get an idea to change a big aspect of it, do I just keep going and write the next chapter or do I start editing and working on that chapter I just finished?

    I guess just any advice about writing first drafts would be helpful.

    Another GIANT thing I'm tending to do is I go off course with the plot. Is it good to just ALWAYS stick with the plot and avoid all the other talky and feely stuff if it's not necessary?
     
  2. MorphineDrip
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    MorphineDrip Member

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    the first draft should just be nothing more than getting it on paper and after months of preparing just keep going until you're finished with the process and when you've reached the end, begin editing.

    you're on the right track, when u begin you'll see its easy, good luck!
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    MorphineDrip has one option. I usually go for the other. I can't stand charging ahead on the first draft and not caring about quality, because all I see is a lot of garbage pages piling up, and the more I write, the more garbage I produce, and it makes me very, very depressed. So I revise as I go until I'm happy with the pages piling up. Sure, it's slower, but I get to be proud of my draft (and it's actually good!), and that helps keep me writing.

    And I don't turn off my creativity when I'm writing the draft, meaning that if I get a great idea as I'm working, I feel free to write that, instead of what I'd originally had in mind. When I finally finish the draft, I can then look at it and decide if I made a wrong turn. I'm perfectly happy ripping huge chunks of a novel out (I've deleted fully half the first draft of my first novel) and writing new material to bridge the gaps and strengthen what remains. I don't feel like I wasted time writing the material I rip out. I enjoy writing, and I enjoyed writing that stuff even if it didn't get into the final book. I don't lose that material, either - it might find itself part of a future book.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You learn how to write better by writing and editing. A first draft is simply that: a first step in a long process. First drafts invariably contain irrelevant side tracks, loose ends, incomplete thoughts and ideas, unwanted characters, and the ever popular SPaG errors. A second draft will contain fewer of each, usually, but also possibly some new ones that you either didn't catch the first time or may have created while rewriting. The third through twelfth drafts should show a steady march toward respectability. If you give up after the first draft, your writing will never amount to anything but a first draft. You okay with that?

    If you are really talking about the first chapter, and you are thinking of making a major change to it, than, yes, I would do it if it is central to the story because everything else in the story will be affected. But if it is minor, or if you are already well into what you know you want your story to be, then I would suggest holding off until your project has really taken shape. As a rule, I do not edit as I go. I find it is too important to me to maintain forward momentum. But, as Minstrel points out, that's really an individual choice. There is no absolute right or wrong.

    The important thing to remember is that writing is not one of those activities in which it pays to strive for economy of effort. If you are looking to write something truly worthwhile, it is going to require review and revision. It's also important to remember that your ideas, your story and even your characters will change as you write, and you should not be surprised if your view of your characters is different at the end of the work than it was when you started.

    That depends on what you mean by "not necessary". If it has nothing to do with the story and doesn't help the reader understand the characters, than it probably doesn't belong there. OTOH, lots of great passages have been written that didn't have anything to do with the story but went a long way to explaining the nature of a character. One of my favorite examples of this is the incident in "To Kill A Mockingbird" in which Atticus shoots the rabid dog.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    James Michener recycled more than one section of cut text into a separate work. A large segment that was cut out of "Alaska" found life in a novella "Journey", and an idea for a character who was supposed to be central to "Mexico" found life in the novella "Miracle of Seville".
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One way you can easily improve the quality of your first drafts is by recognizing SPaG errors as they occur (assuming you have a lot of them). Sure, you might make the occasional typo, but IMO, there should be no excuse for punctuation or grammar errors in first drafts.

    Otherwise, like the others said, there's no right or wrong way to do this. Do whatever works for you. If it makes you feel any better, writers are usually never satisfied with their first drafts, so just keep on writing.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this. If you have trouble with SPaG, you won't go far. Learn that stuff. Learn it well enough to get it right the first time. Writing is so much easier when you're confident you can handle the most basic elements of prose.

    I forget which famous writer said this, but whoever it was was being interviewed. The interviewer asked, "Do you rewrite?" The writer answered, "Of course. All my thoughts are second thoughts." I think that's a great way to put it.
     
  8. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    what is SPaG?
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Spelling, punctuation and grammar
     

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