Thursday, 5 March 2009
Are you an intrepid explorer?
Lately I've been thinking about first drafts. First drafts of the whole novel, that is. When I started looking into this novel writing lark every authority I consulted said it was best to get the whole book written, warts and all, before going back to revise and edit. And that's more of less what I've done. It's one of the reasons I'm a big fan of NaNoWriMo as I've mentioned in an earlier post.
But I know opinions vary on this. Some writers I've encountered hone and edit each chapter before proceeding to the next. I think that's fine as long as you know what your story is and can stick to it. Some people seem to be able to keep their story in their head, or in outline form, and if it works for them then great.
Personally I can't work that way. Writing a novel is too big a project to keep in my head and outlines have to be sketchy because when I sit down to write the characters take me in all sorts of directions I never expected. And if I kept going back to rewrite I know I'd never get to the end.
Take my current WIP. I know who it's about and have a list of characters. I've worked out their bios, even given them a face thanks to Liquid Story Binder. I know how it starts, have a rough idea what the main plot points are and how it ends. But until I reach the end I can't know for sure how all the threads will work out. So writing the first draft I allow myself to write badly and just keep going until it's finished. I know a lot of it will be changed when I revise so I try not to get hung up on any particular scene. If I can't think how to end a chapter I just abandon it and move on to the next one.
I know from past experience that after it's finished and I've had a little break from it I'll go back to it with Editor's eyes and see the things that need to be fixed. But this part is relatively easy because now I know the story I'm trying to tell. I can write new scenes, discard the rubbish, even introduce or discard characters.
It is fun writing the first draft, but it's also a little scary - like exploring in the jungle; you don't know what you'll find but it's an exciting journey.
Anyway, here's a very interesting article on this from another great website I discovered.