1. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    First Drafts: Are you ever happy...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lemex, Jul 5, 2008.

    Are you ever completely happy with your first drafts, or what you write at first?
    I never am, I always think 'This isn't good' or 'The ending isn't good' or my personal favourite 'What made me think this idea would be good?'

    I never am happy with the first draft, I find faults with it everywhere, I could improve the beginning, I could improve the dialogue, I could make it flow better. All these things are running through my mind after finishing a long first draft.

    I just finished the first draft of a story today, 3500 words and am totally NOT happy with it. Wanting to go back and redraft it straight after I've finished it, though I always give myself a night to reflect upon it and go back with a more unbiased and balanced view.

    So if, like me, you find yourself doing this, this is my advice ... redraft it, the story will be many times better if you do, and you will shut up that nagging voice in the back of your head, and the most important thing to remember is, don't be disheartened. No one can write a great novel straight away, it takes time, effort and a lot of redrafting, reworking and rewriting until you get it perfect.

    P.S. how many drafts, if any, do you do?
     
  2. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    If we were happy with our first drafts, we wouldn't bother going back and revising, making our writing better.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lemex,
    If one was completely happy with his first draft, it would qualify as a final draft. Letting it sit a bit, and then going back to edit/revise the first draft once or twice or five times is how it's done.

    It is more difficult to say how many drafts I do. WHen I write a short story, I plan it out a bit...creat a file with ideas, dialogue bits, major plot points, and the anticipated ending.

    Then I write. Maybe 500 or so words. Next session I proof what I wrote, editing a bit what reminding what I wrote and then picking up where I left off. Then I get another 250 to 750 words or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) written. Go back, skim the beginning section, edit the second section, then add more words. I generally do this until completion.

    Then I print it out, and edit by hand. Enter the edits, then I post to my crit group.

    I make revisions based on input from my crit group. Let it sit, make one more pass (maybe two) and then submit it.

    So, maybe counting...it'd equal about 5 drafts.

    Terry
     
  4. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    "All first drafts are ****" - Ernest Hemingway.

    This is really a gray area for me. With some of my work, I'm generally pleased with my first draft and only need a quick polish before I feel it's ready to go. Of course, this is usually the case with my earlier work, when I didn't have the experience that I have now.

    In general, no. My first drafts are exactly what Ernest Hemingway said they'd be. Frankly, when I read my first drafts I question my decision of becoming a writer at all. The next draft is slightly less depressing, but still an utter wreck. I find that I don't have much semblance of a good story until my third draft.

    On my current WIP, it wasn't until the third draft that I've finally become pleased with it. Of course, when I'm finally pleased and I set to type my story into manuscript format, that becomes another draft in itself.

    I've read interviews with authors who claim they actually mark up their published copies with red pen because they're still not satisfied. If ever published, I have no doubt that I'll end up doing the same thing. The more drafts I write, the more I seem to cut. If I revised my stories until I was satisfied with them completely, they'd only be one sentence long.

    But there has to be a point where you're generally satisfied enough with your own work that you need to send it out. Constantly looking for faults in your work is going to get you nowhere. It's time to bite the bullet and let the public judge.
     
  5. cawalabe
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    cawalabe Member

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    I never saw any reason to write a second one.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cawalabe,
    You're quite fortunate and/or extremely skilled then.

    I've never been able to sit down and write anything of length without having at least some typos, missing words, and places where it could use some tightening up. Plot holes and inconsistencies and such I've always been able to avoid pretty well (thus far). But never has my writing been ready to submit upon completing a first draft. Maybe someday, but I seriously doubt it.

    Terry
     
  7. ManicHedgehog
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    ManicHedgehog Member

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    See, I'm still at the point where I find my first drafts to be good. It's mostly because I'm looking through rose-colored glasses because I'm finally glad that I got my idea out onto paper. But I often have a hard time changing things, because I seem to feel that whatever I put down is set in stone. Yeah, I'll make minor changes here and there, but I have a tough time going back and making sweeping changes.

    Then I look back at the story a few weeks later and say, "Yeah, it really could have used some changes."
     
  8. cawalabe
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    cawalabe Member

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    I probably would have more revisions if I wrote fiction Terry. And I'm not saying that I never find a mispelled word or a misplaced comma after proofing, but I wouldn't call fixing a spelling error a second draft. I just call it proofing. In fact, you'll probably never find all your mistakes before publishing. I had a biography that came out last year, after which a reviewer from a literary society in New York wrote to me and pointed out that I had managed to use the word matron where I meant to write patron. It wasn't a printing error either. It's on my original draft, but somehow everybody involved in the process managed to miss it. I think that most people assume that second printing revisions are generally fixing printer's errors, but they'd be surprised how many of those errors were on the original drafts. We writers give printers a bad rap.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even if a first draft turns out well, I can always find ways to make it better on the second, third, and fourth passes.
     
  10. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I'm probably happier than most people are with first drafts, since I've had a lot of experience with getting it exactly the way I want it the first time around. Of course, now that I look back at what I've done years ago, I realize a lot of it was pretty bad, but I was still a newborn writer at the time.

    If I'm not happy with a single word in my passage, I go back and mess with it until I am happy with it. I can't proceed until I'm satisfied. Not to say it's perfect the first time around, but it's good enough in my own mind so I can concentrate on what comes next.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm almost always happy with my first drafts, because i take care in writing them, don't just dash them off carelessly... i might find a typo here and there, or a word i want to subsitute on occasion, but i wouldn't consider that a sequentially-numbered 'draft'... only an 'edited' first draft...

    that said, i don't know what you're all calling 'drafts'... it seems that you mean major revisions, or rewrites, but i could be wrong...
     
  12. cawalabe
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    cawalabe Member

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    "If I'm not happy with a single word in my passage, I go back and mess with it until I am happy with it. I can't proceed until I'm satisfied."

    Exactly; I work a paragraph to death until I have it as perfect as I can before moving on. There are times I've come toward the end of a chapter and realized that a couple of paragraphs may work better in one place than another, so I may switch them around or something. I'm editing as I'm writing. But, by the time I've come to the end of the book--it's done. Like I say though, I don't do much with fiction, so I have a very good idea of how the book will go before I ever write the first word. I realize that fiction writers, on the other hand, may have no idea what they're going to say in the next sentence. I imagine that two or three major revisions are more common with fiction.
     
  13. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I usually go back and edit several times before I'm more or less happy with my work.
     
  14. Cyberpunk
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    Cyberpunk Banned

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    I used to do the entire "Edit while you write" thing, but found that I was far less productive than just getting a rhythm going.

    Cool thing about first drafts is that nobody is going to see them. It's important to write them for yourself, and however it works best for you. If you need to get your ideas down on paper and don't care for structure at that point, then just write your first draft without thinking about it. However, if you're a writer that needs a nearly perfect piece to work from and can't fill in the details or edits later, then edit as you write. In the end, it's important to do what works best for you.
     
  15. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    First of all, I'm going to admit something: I don't do a lot of "re-drafting". Over the years I've found if a story of mine doesn't mostly work as it is, the entire thing has failed. Seriously. It's happened every single time. It's so strange. I'm one of the sloppiest writers I know. I scarcely pay attention to what I'm writing. I'm concerned that this is arrogance, so I always go back and at least make three or four passes over any given piece. It's always good to check.

    Still, I worry about any writer who is overly satisfied with their first draft. These are usually the people who are either very much beginners (nothing wrong with that, of course,) or extremely arrogant. The idea here is with a first draft, there's always room for improvement. Maybe you need to cut out a huge chunk of story, or maybe there is one word in an entire 10,000-word piece that isn't right and needs to be fixed. It all varies.

    Sometimes, when I write, I have a story that comes out so poorly it's not worth editing at all. If I really liked the idea for the story, I'll rewrite it five or six times until it's just the way I want it. Normally, though, I do a "first draft" thing, then a "second pass", where I look for general errors, then an "audio pass", where I read the story silently and aloud, listening for the sound of words.
     
  16. xMissEnvyx
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    xMissEnvyx Member

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    I usually end up writing at least 3 drafts before I'm close to being happy with the big picture.

    And I agree. Always redraft. Even if you think you are completely satisfied with your work take a break and look at it in a week. You'll find something to add/move/delete.
     
  17. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    I'm the worst critic when it comes to my own work. I cannot let myself read it before it's finished, or I'll end up feeling like I've written something that's not worth the space it takes up. If I can get through a first draft and then go back and edit/revise, I'm usually much happier with it.

    I've found I can usually make things so much more concise when I edit. I tend to be rather wordy!
     
  18. Adelaide
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    Adelaide Member

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    With fiction, usually I'm proud that I actually finished my first draft and am happy with my ideas. But all kinds of mistakes from technical errors to transitions to dialogue problems are evident after a read-through.
     
  19. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I have to agree on needing second drafts, I've been completely rewriting "Freedom's Fall" in my second draft, meating up Kate a lot more, giving her to typical 20-25 year old's "I'm invincible attitude (not to mention she IS NEARLY invicible making her cockier) with a big trap that gets her in trouble. I've also added another problem to face, changed the plot in the second half, not majorly, just changed it enough to make it more plausible, that kinds of stuff.
    n other words making a story a story, that's why we rewrite...
    heck, someone on the Baen's bar gave called kate 'the banshee' for her mouth of killing ability, and it have kept it, going to gve him credit for the name, meanng she has a nickname now...
    you have to do rewrites...part of writing...even Webber and pros rewrite
     
  20. Rose Strailo
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    Rose Strailo New Member

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    Depending on the story that I'm writing and how long it is:

    *One shot/stand alone story: 2 to 8 drafts, including the editing process.
    *Chapter Stories: 2 to 4 drafts per chapter, including the editing process. After the story is written, 4 to 8 drafts total.

    I'm never happy with the first draft unless it came to me easily enough. Usually after that it's just a matter of working the kinks out and smoothing the rest.
     
  21. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I rewrite a lot of stuff I do. I have a story called 'My Little Secret' that has been rewritten several times. You can call each one a draft but the story was originaly something I made up on the fly talking to my girl. I rewrote it and made it too graphic, then again to tone it down for the school paper. I decided that it could have more details so I made it longer. Then realized that it would be a great character synopsis for the protaganist in something else I was writting so I believe going back and looking over your stuff to create new drafts might help you polish it in different ways, or maybe find out about a character you have laying in wait deeper inside
     
  22. Rebekkamaria
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    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

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    Every time I go back to my work, I read what I've written (if it's very long, I read the last five pages) and edit everything. Sometimes I miss a word that should be there and then, the next time I come up with the exact word I wanted to use then etc.

    Then when I've finished, I edit the work every time I read it.

    I think editing is a big part of the work. And I might be crazy but I love it. I know I can't be perfect when I write something the first time, but I always know I can do it better when I edit it. :-D
     
  23. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Actually, I try to write something the best I can the first time, because I see no point in wasting time writing something if I'm not making it the absolute best that I can the first time around. To do otherwise just seems like--well, a waste. I haven't time to write something lousy and then redo it later, especially since I post it to the Web for people to view. If others are going to see it, I want it to be the best I can make it. So I don't tend to do drafts; and yes, I'm usually happy with what I write the first time around, otherwise it'd never see the light of day. Sure, I tweak my stories and work on improving them, but for the most part there's no excessive amount of time spent on things like "redrafting" and "rewriting."

    That being said, I might look back on it a few years later and realize I can do it better NOW. Yes, back when I wrote it it was the best I could do, but skills improve and styles change over time, so maybe at a later point I can do it better. But usually at least a few years have to pass before I reach that point.

    I don't do any drafts. I just write one. If, some years down the line, I find that a story could use improvement, then there's another "draft" (or version, as I would call it, since "draft" implies it's unfinished, when IMO once I'm done with a story it's finished for now).
     
  24. assassins creed
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    assassins creed Banned

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    Death waits for us on every corner, It only approaches at night
    Who would be its willing victim... those of us that remains out of sight.
    If we choose to live a little bit longer we have to brave and plead our case
    Thats what I would do if I wish to remain among the human race.
     
  25. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    I pretty much feel this way. Really that simple.
     

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