Friday, January 23, 2015

Why my first draft is my final draft

I've read in the past, and a bit in the present, about how the proper way for writers to write is to first throw all of your ideas from your brain onto paper (in 2015, onto a screen) and then figure it all out later on your second, third, fourth, etc., drafts. And while I think that’s fine for people who like to write like a blender, I prefer to analogize my writing style to a puzzle.

Do people do a puzzle by throwing all of the pieces onto a table and start putting random pieces together, hoping that they resemble the end product, then going back and repeating that process three, or four more times until the desired product materializes? No. People tend to start by putting together full parts, a full sky first (the main plot), a full car second (a subplot, perhaps), a full puppy third (characters), etc., then putting the full parts together to create the whole picture.

In the far past, when typewriters and quill pens were the preferred (and only) tools to write with, second and third drafts were the only way to go. You had to toss away drafts at will, and use white-out sparingly to correct mistakes. Remember white-out? The mother of a member of the Monkees made that. Incredible! Hey, remember the Monkees?

Leaving the world of digression…

But in the day of Microsoft Word and Google Doc, we're now able to fix and correct as we write along, the end product often resembling what it is we first had in our minds.

And I when I talk of drafts, I don't mean fixing spelling errors, cleaning up grammar, adding details you might have missed, etc., all things you should totally do at the end, things I don't consider part of a second or third draft. To stick with the puzzle analogy, that’s comparable to when you adhere straggling parts where they fit at the end, corners, a car’s bumper, a puppy’s paw and such.

This isn't advice of any kind––I'm not fit to give any––just how I perceive my writing style. I’d love to hear about all kinds of writing styles. I doubt many of us write the same way. Hell, maybe people do puzzles differently than how I think they do in my mind. I haven't done a physical puzzle in a long while.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't begin to imagine trying to do more than two drafts of a story. Hell, a second draft to me is when I find an old story and add or take away from it. When I start a story the idea comes from random places. Hero came from imagining what it would be like if Superman had a kid that behaved like Batman. Royce was wondering if an old rich guy paid people to do horrible things. Johnny Panic was from a phrase in a Dean Koontz novel. From there its a free for all.

    I've never taken a class that taught me how to do anything I enjoy so I tend to get upset when people suggest some kind of structure or rules to my writing. I barely have a plot. I just write until I am comfy with what is happening. It all comes down to its my story and I can do whatever I want and explain as little or as much as I want. I have done several “seasons” of Johnny Panic and no one even knows what race he is.

    From the stuff of yours that I have read I think that there are many places to go. You create worlds. I create situations. No one wonders what anyone else is up to in my stories. Just the main characters. In yours I'm like “Okay. What happened to make this place this way before this story was written?”