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  1. Rooster

    Rooster New Member

    Nov 21, 2012
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    First Draft Blues

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rooster, Nov 22, 2012.


    I am new to this forum and would like to ask about peoples experience/advice of moving past the first draft.

    I currently have 2 finished first drafts (when i say finished they need serious work and have lots of plot holes) and 2 pieces currently at around 20k wordcount. My problem seems to be keeping focus on one project at a time with each one inspiring me at different times. I work on each project as the mood takes me. This is a hobby for me and with fulltime work and 2 children i find it hard to find quality time to write.

    One of the finished drafts shows some potential in my mind and i would like to get it finished, my problem with this is the sheer size of the project (not that it is overly long). I simply find myself rewriting the early chapters rather than cracking through the whole story.

    Any advice on technique or focus or motivation would be very welcome. Esp with the logistics of organising a novel.

    thanks for reading
  2. Saul-hudson

    Saul-hudson New Member

    Dec 21, 2011
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    Worksop, UK
    Hey, Rooster. I feel your pain right now, I really do. I'm a sucker for ideas and tend to find myself trying to working through multiple at the same time. For me, at least, this proved to be a bad move. If you already have one manuscript finished in first draft format I'd suggest shelving it if the newer story seems to outweigh the previous one. You have one story out of your system, that's great,how many people can say that? Sure there are huge plot holes, but that's nothing you couldn't fix over time. I'd say write down where and what the plot holes are, push it inside the front page of your completed work and shelve it. You may never go back to it (a strong story will beg to be told no matter what) but if you do you already have the notes there.

    As for the first draft of anything, look at it as the foundations only. You have the body of it , you know the story you want to tell, you just need to flesh it out and tighten it up. Cut, add, or rework whole pages or segments if needed.

    I'm a sucker for editing as I go, too. But I dont do the whole previous page. I scroll down to the page I last completed, read through it and pick at various segments until I eventually hit the next chapter. Try it that way. It may help. Just try not to jump too far back, because, as we all know, things change a lot sometimes on the second draft. I don't change whole paragraphs, just words or add in a few lines.

    But as I said, I work on multiple projects at once sometimes. But I time manage myself. I'm a single dad too so I know how hard it is to find time sometimes. For example, at the moment I'm working on two novellas, and I have given myself a 2k word count on each a day. If I achieve more I'm happy, but I never do less. So, I work on one in the morning, usually an hour before my daughter gets up and while she's having breakfast. I already know how the next chapter will pan out, so I don't have to think too much about what's going to happen. And I work on the second in the evening, usually from 7pm onwards. Again if I hit my 2k mark I'm happy - and I usually do.

    The above practice works for me, it may not for everyone. But if you're dedicated to both then split your day. Editing in a morning and writing in the evening. Or the other way round. The choice is yours.

    I should also note that it would be worth your while putting the completed manuscript away for a few weeks and go back to it fresh. Leave it for something like 2 or 3 weeks and hit it again. Some leave it months before returning to what they've written.

    Hope this helps
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Feb 10, 2011
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    Rotorua, New Zealand

    Sticking to one book at a time is a problem for me as well, which is why I have about eighty at the moment in various stages. Some only ten k in or so, some nearly completed. As to how to finish them, I generally wait until one of them reaches that mystical stage of first draft completeness. It shouldn't have any plot holes or story gaps in it by that stage. Then I picture the end product, i.e. the book on the bookshelf, and use that as a focus to keep me on track.

    From that point on there are several things that help in this. One is designing the cover and writing the blurb. I know it sounds lame, but I find taking a little time away from the excruciation of editing etc, to do these things helps me refocus. Also sending the book off to be edited is useful as well, as it usually gives me a week or so of down time while I stress about it. But that in turn inspires me to return to it when the book returns to me.

    And after that its just a checklist of steps. First, going through the edit, accepting / rejecting changes etc (grief I hate that track changes thing in word!). Then the plot issues picked up. Then the checklist of words that I commonly mix up when I write - the its and it's for example.

    Its long slow and painful, but I can generally get through all the edit steps in a week once I have the book back.

    And then finally comes that glorious step when I publish it, followed by the next inevitable step in which I'm so proud of it, that I actually can't stand to even think about it let alone read any of the book again!

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers, Greg.
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    you may just have to knuckle down and make yourself finish something... not everyone can work on more than one writing project at the same time...

    being a writer requires self-discipline, so stop yourself from going back and editing anything until you get to the end of the story... that will help you stay focused on the progress of the story itself, instead of nit-picking at your wording...
  5. the antithesis

    the antithesis Member

    Nov 22, 2012
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    How long has it been since you'd finished those drafts? In his memoir On Writing, a great book for writers to read even if you don't care for Stephen King, he suggest putting a first draft into a drawer for a couple months and doing something else until the draft looks like some foreign artifact. It's good advice because being too close to the heat of composition can make it difficult to do the work you really need to do to fix it. You need to be able to read it like you'd just purchased it from a store and not as the guy who wrote it. You need to forget a lot of the stuff that's in there so you can look at it fresh and more accurately judge if it works or not. That's my advice.

    As to the problem with focusing, many authors have written multiple manuscripts at the same time. But exercise discipline after you complete the draft and do not return to it to make changes. Think of it like brewing beer. You have to leave it alone to ferment. Monkey with it while it ferments, you're likely to just ruin it. Discipline. There is not substitute. Get a lock box if you need to and give someone you trust the key to keep you away from those drafts until you are ready.

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