1. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    First draft rating scale

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Naiyn, Oct 10, 2010.

    As I read through my first draft and highlight and make notes on what to change and improve, I realize that at the end of the day, I've got more highlights and notes than words in the story. So I got to wondering where others stand on their first drafts. How do you rate yourself on a scale?

    1- A monkey with brain damage could write better.
    2- A monkey without brain damage could write better.
    3- It would be pretty good... if I were three years old.
    4- If anyone were to read this unedited, I would have wear a sack over my head.
    5- I can actually read it without vomiting.
    6- Not too shabby. I only have to tweak almost everything.
    7- Did I edit this already? It looks way too good to be first draft.
    8- Revision? I don't need no stink'n revision!
    9- My first drafts make best-selling authors look like ameatures
    10- They're going to use a giant laser to etch my words permanently onto the surface of the moon.

    I range anywhere from 1-7, but on average I'm about a 4
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    10, definitely. :D

    Nah, usually 5-7... I edit as I go along, so unless a first draft is particularly dodgy on subject matter, or hastily written for fun rather than a serious attempt at a novel, I usually think I can at least share it with people... maybe not the WORLD (certainly not to the people in times to come gazing wistfully up at the moon and wishing they could write as well as that...) but definitely I won't cry at the thought of someone happening to spot a few pages of it somewhere. :p

    I'm also very used to workshopping, and so I'm not too secretive about my pages, nor do I feel the need to polish obsessively before anyone else sees them.
     
  3. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    Haha, no higher than a one.

    I write the scenes in a weird order but realize I'm moving to fast so I add other scenes that come to me, but not in order. That and I don't edit until I'm done handwriting and then typing it. It looks like random garbage for a long time. :D
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a 5 or 6. I do a lot of rewriting as I work on the first draft. I'm not one of those "don't even think about editing until the last word is down" writers. I like to be proud of my day's work even if it's only a first draft, so I work on it pretty hard.
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I always expect it to be 1 (seriously, see... I am not laughing :( ) because I have no faith in my abilities at all, but after reading it, it is usually 5, and it makes me quite happy :) I am a very lazy editor, so usually I end up making very few changes in the final draft.

    That's not a bad thing, the ability to find ways to improve your first draft is a very good thing.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    My writing? Pi :p
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    1-3 for me personally a first draft for me will always be rubbish and I have no intention of changing that, it is the chance to get the story out and ideas flowing. I don't yet know the characters so dialogue is flat - they are a bit flat, I don't bother making my Abbot verbose or Bessie Malaprop - Socrates swears way too much. The flow won't be so good. There will be thousands of words of uninteresting back story. I see 0 point in correcting grammar, punctuation, tense etc until I know what is staying. I add most of the humour later. I use lazy plot devices and way too much magical stuff lol

    With my first novel I referred to it twice when writing the second draft there were two scenes that couldn't be written better than I did the first time. Oh and a line about food remained.

    With my second I am paying even less attention to the quality of the first draft. Having said that I can still produce a few paragraphs that have some very good author friends getting excited about, the story is now on its way to being great. The characters are now forming themselves and I am able to bash out thousands of words everyday. The first draft will be completed to around 80-100,000 words hopefully by the end of this month. (I started it last Wednesday properly but has taken me three weeks to finally decide how to take the story.) I am pleased with my first draft - I wasn't sure I would be I was delighted with my first novel's draft now I giggle reading it. This one is actually better in someways because my skills have improved. I also love the story can't wait to read it complete/
     
  8. Lee Shelly
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    Lee Shelly Member

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    I like to think my rough drafts are about a six... They're legible, formatted, in the right order, I don't have to edit my spelling and grammar too much, and my story is already there. After the rough draft, I just have to go back and make it better, however the story calls for that to be done. Then I have to make it better again. And again. And then the problem is stopping.
     
  9. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    Yeah, and I do actually enjoy the editing process and seeing the improvements unfold. Sometimes I even edit as I write a first draft, and I only get maybe 100 words written, but they are all-- at least pretty close to-- the right 100 words.
     
  10. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    ha ha ha. Um, uh, I'll take a number 6 please! :D

    Seriously, that's what I say to myself. My grammar isn't too bad, and neither is my spelling. My main concern is plot and character developement. I'm pretty gray in those two areas and in that order. But we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves. It's just the first draft.
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Usually 6-7 because I tend to edit a lot as I go along, which is why I'm so sloooow...
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    eschewing the excessive hubris of 8-10, i'm pretty consistently a 7...
     
  13. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like the song says 'It's not where you start, it's where you finish' that counts.

    Let's aim for number 10.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say 5. That's not to say that _any_ of a first draft goes unedited, but I enjoy untangling and rearranging the mess that is the first draft, rather than feeling ashamed of it.
     
  15. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    When I first finish, I tend to think of it as about a 7 or 8. I come up with the best plots between 11pm-2am, so generally my first drafts are inspired jibberish. Of course, at that point, my mind is on the same wavelength as the jibberish, so I think it's pretty awesome.

    Then I look at it the next morning and it's anywhere between 1-4 :/ But if I can understand my plot, I generally like at least the idea of it. And it turns into something alright, after a lot of editing :)
     
  16. Stephie Kaye
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    Stephie Kaye Member

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    5-6. but I, too, rarely have a first draft because I keep editing the more I read everything over. Right now I have about 5 paragraphs to a new piece I am writing and I have already edited three times and I found more things to change. Haha.
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    :O I could not do that... When I say I edit as I go, I mean, like, 3 scenes behind wherever I am. :p If I was constantly editing the very scene I was writing, I'd never get anything done... My method of writing requires a lot of re-reading, to make sure I'm still on course or haven't forgotten something, and so I usually end up editing as I browse up and down the document for a few facts. :p
     
  18. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    First draft? It's the same lump of clay I'm pushing my fingers into, until it finally takes the shape I want. There's no way for me to distinguish a line between first and final draft.
     
  19. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    I normally get between 4 & 7. Sometimes I look at my work and I find only minor adjustments that I need to make to it, Spelling and grammer and little things like that. Other times I re-write entire sections because I have a WTF moment.

    It's a good idea to be able to distinguish between first and final draft. Not only may you find that your revisions are actually making the story worse, but most publishers and agents will not accept a first draft so it's a good idea to keep a copy of the first draft and then you can say to them "This is where I was and this is where I am right now".
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Surely though it should be compared to YOUR final draft. MY first draft is 1-3 compared to the goal of 10 for MY final draft. It is not a comparison with others but with the work you yourself produce. Personally I would be very disappointed if my completed work wasn't ten times better than my first draft.
     
  21. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    If your first draft is a 6 or above, you either are not doing it right, or your ego is too big and you are not critical enough about your own work.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is what HorusEye was referring to above, I think, and it also applies to me. Some of us, even in our first drafts, work over each sentence and paragraph as we go until we're reasonably happy with it. By the time we write "The End", it's a first draft in the sense that it's the first time the whole story is down on paper, but every sentence has been revised, and often many times. So the draft will be in reasonable shape - it may even be very good.

    The problems I have to face in my second or third drafts are usually ones of pacing and bringing the theme into focus. My SPaG, style, imagery, and so on will be very good on my first draft, because I've already done a ton of work on it.

    I'm not one of those writers who can turn off the editor lobe and just speed through the first draft without caring about quality. I've tried working that way and I hate it. I hate having a pile of crap to show for a day's work. I hate hating my own stuff. So I work hard on making my first drafts good. It means I write slowly, but so what? At least, when I read over what I've written, I like it.
     
  23. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    @SashaMeredith: Not necessarily. My first drafts range between a 3 and an 8, depending on circumstances. I recently started and finished a flash fiction story that came out nearly perfect in the first draft. I mean, seriously. By the time I'd reached the end, I just typed "The End," checked it for spelling errors -- I don't recall there being any, although I suppose it is possible -- and then re-read it. I honestly didn't think it needed revising.

    So, before I could start to worry and doubt myself, I checked Duotrope.com for markets, then sent it off to a pro-rate SF/F magazine within an hour of finishing. The story was accepted within a couple weeks.

    You can read it if you'd like to confirm my story -- "Picture in Sand," filed under Modern / Urban Fantasy on DailyScienceFiction.com . I can't claim that my stories are always this good, because they truly aren't, but sometimes, for some people, the story comes so clearly and easily to the page that no revision is needed.
     
  24. IVIilitarus
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    IVIilitarus Member

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    I peg mine as a 6.

    The story, locations, characters are there. It's only dialogue and action that need work. Spelling and grammar needs a bit of ironing and it's mostly down to reworking words and sentences to fit better.
     
  25. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think 1-4 are pretty much all the same, and 8-10 are pretty much all the same. From 4 to 5 is a reasonable step, but 5 and 6 are two different ways of saying the same thing. There is enough room between 6 and 7 to fit a small planet, and I think a lot of writers who take reasonable care of their first drafts would fall in here. I know I would - I never feel like I have to change everything, and I never feel like I have to change nothing.
     

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