?

Which describes your first draft writing style the best?

  1. I try to get it meticulous

    5 vote(s)
    20.8%
  2. The outline is my first draft

    1 vote(s)
    4.2%
  3. Word dump

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
  4. It's not perfect, but it's not a word dump

    15 vote(s)
    62.5%
  1. PennyDreadfully

    PennyDreadfully Member

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    What type of first draft writer are you?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by PennyDreadfully, Mar 15, 2018.

    Hey guys,

    I'm working on a second draft of a short story at the moment, and I noticed how different this second draft is from my usual revisions.

    I decided to do a 'word dump' this time round. To get the bare bones of my plot made up, to get a feel for my characters, and to have a stab at an ending even though I wasn't sure on how it was going to end at the start.

    Before, I was a 'It's not perfect, but it's not a word dump' kind of writer. I was careful with plot especially, and had to have an ending figured out before I even started.

    I am now a word dump convert. Yeah, I've got a lot of revision to do, especially at the start, but I loved actually writing 2,000+ words a day, every day, until it was finished. It also helped me figure out all my character's motivations in a way that felt natural, even if they do feel a little flat at the moment.

    My grammar, plot, and structure are all over the place, but I actually look forward to fixing them now instead of thinking 'ugh, I have to read this same bloody story again?"

    It got me thinking what other people on this forum are like with their first drafts. I wanna hear if you were converted to a style like me, or if none of these options even fit with your writing of a first draft. Why do you like your method so much?
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    It really varies for me. I'm primarily a short story writer, and a lot of the time they start with a vague idea or a few lines, maybe the general skeleton of a plot, and I just write my way through the first iteration in a day or so, figuring out more as I get there. Not quite a word dump -- I think my first drafts are usually pretty decent, if only because I've been doing this long enough I've developed all right instincts -- but not a lot of meticulous planning and no outline. They need cleaning up, but not too too much.

    On the other hand, when it comes to novels, I'm a big planner. Outlines like crazy, beats and pacing and laid out carefully, everything's gotta be perfect before I ever start. Except for that one time I winged my way through an entire novel and it was ... sorta fine? That experience loosened me up about the process a lot, so I guess I'm kind of a convert! I do actually love editing, most of the time, I'm just also a perfectionist and it's a hard habit to break.

    For the novella I'm working on at the moment, the first two or three chapters were kind of off the top of my head, and then I figured out what I was doing / what I wanted to do, and I sketched out the vague happenings for the ensuing chapters -- sort of a post-started-writing outline, I guess.

    Frankly I don't know if I do like my method, because I'm not sure what the hell it is :D
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I write individual polished scenes that may or may not make it into the final work. So for plotting, it's arguably no more organized than a word dump, but the actual prose is heavily edited before I put the scene aside and go on to the next one.

    (Therefore, nothing on the poll works for me. I suggest an 'Other' option. :))
     
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  4. Odile_Blud

    Odile_Blud Active Member

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    It's definitely that first one.
     
  5. PennyDreadfully

    PennyDreadfully Member

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    That's a good idea, but I can't edit the post? Strange.

    You're all going to have to live in an Other Hipsterdom now because I suck at creating polls. Sorry guys. Or, you're welcome, depending on what your thoughts are on hipsters?
     
  6. PennyDreadfully

    PennyDreadfully Member

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    How do you cope! It drives me utterly insane trying to get a scene as best I can, even on other drafts
     
  7. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like to edit as I go - I tend to read the same scene 3-5 times maybe, and then move on. In terms of writing quality, it should be as solid as my skills allow. There was only once I did a "word dump" approach, where I just wrote to the finish and to hell with quality - that's perhaps the only draft I've never edited. I couldn't take the idea of having to trawl through 80k+ words of trash. Reading it gave me no joy because at every turn I was cringing and then I'd look at the word count and see I've only gone through 1000 words out of 80k and I'd just go argh. So no, definitely never doing the word dump approach again.

    I'm a slow convert to outlining though. I don't honestly outline because I suck at plot - but it is precisely that I suck at plot that I need a outline lol. I've found when I do have an outline, I write much faster and have a far higher chance of actually finishing. I can't write if I have no direction to write towards.
     
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  8. Night Herald

    Night Herald Malfunctioning clockwork person Supporter Contributor

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    Not perfect, nor word dump.

    I used to be very meticulous, to the point that "snail's pace" would have been an improvement. Not rarely did I rewrite a single sentence ten times or more in a day. Far from resulting in impeccable prose, this practice tended to squeeze all the blood from my language.

    Now, I do running edits as I write, but only when a better solution strikes me. I no longer fret and fiddle endlessly over a turn of phrase. Now and again, I do a pure editing session of an ongoing draft, where nothing new is added past the last checkpoint; I just add to, trim down, and polish what's already there. Sometimes that means adding whole blocks of narrative or dialogue, but often it's just a matter of beefing up a description, or rephrasing for clarity.

    This workflow has served me well. Could I write faster if I just roughed it out? Certainly, but I need to polish the script in my wake, to retain faith and interest in my story.
     
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  9. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Word dump. I often repeat myself and have the same scene in multiple locations. I am mariculture during the editing process and I think the messy first draft gives me a lot more to work with for the second.
     
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  10. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Contributor

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    I find if I obsess over a chapter then the story can be disjointed, so I try to write what I can in a first draft and leave comments for myself to come back and put some more meat on the bones. It isn't exactly an outline, but it's definitely not a finished product either. Even when editing, I have to be fairly disciplined so I don't overly polish one scene and leave another a complete mess. Often the polishing is a function of how much time I have available.
     
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  11. PennyDreadfully

    PennyDreadfully Member

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    That's exactly what it felt like when I finished, yeah.

    I think it's nice because it actually makes everything feel more fun and enjoyable; the writing, the editing, the redrafting, going over character motivations.

    It will definitely take me more time to fix, though. But I'm alright with that, because I'm enjoying the fixing :D


    I can definitely see how that approach would get you down writing a book. Short stories seem grand, but editing a 'word dump' 80k+ book might just send me over the edge!
     
  12. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    In those cases, I would approach it the same way I approach a programming project that'll have a million lines of code. I write the basic structure first, using my word dump method, then edit that. Then I fill in the details later as part of the second draft where each chapter would then start with it's own word dump followed by editing.
     
  13. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Grammatically, my first drafts are relatively clean with small, unavoidable errors. So, I definitely fall into the not perfect, but not a word dump camp. It’s the endings that tend to take the majority of my revision time. To me, it’s very difficult to come up with a satisfying conclusion in short fiction.
     
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  14. John Grant

    John Grant Member

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    I pre-write the plot in my head before I ever sit down to write the first draft. So I know exactly where the story is headed, the minutia is pretty much a brain dump.
     
  15. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    No word dumps for me. I try to make sure what I'm writing is coherent, definitely free of any SPAG issues, and reads as if it were a final draft as best as possible. If something's not coming out right, or if I know I'm not fully satisfied with something, I'll potentially tweak it at the time, but more than likely I'll flag it and come back later. I need to keep momentum going, and extensively editing as I write tends to disrupt that.

    However, despite trying to write the final draft on the first go, I know I'll need to go back and edit multiple times. I'm perfectly fine with that.
     
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