Keyboard Confession: I hate my first draft


If you have a favorite author, and if you are a geek like me, I’m sure you have gone out of your way to find out as much about that author as possible. Sometimes all you find out about these authors is the way they prefer their steak. Other authors are open books, gladly exposing every flaw they have. When it comes to discussing my inner most thoughts and feelings, especially about my writing, I’m a bit guarded, but that doesn’t make me very interesting, and it certainly does not accurately represent me as a writer. It is taking time for me to warm up to exposing my vulnerabilities, but here is my first crack at it.

With most authors, the only work you see is the finished book. Very few authors are brave enough to let anyone see their prior drafts. I won’t even let my husband see my first draft. And to be honest, sometimes I don’t want to see my first draft. This is the case with my current project.

I hate it. With a passion. I want to purchase a flame-thrower and watch my hand-written manuscript burst into flames. And eventually it will get tossed into a fire, but not before it undergoes and complete rewrite. Notice that I used “rewrite,” not “revision.” My current first draft is that bad. All at once, as I read through this historical romance, I find myself cringing, mean-girl laughing, and pity-party crying. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything quite to emotionally over-the-top, cheesy, and ridiculously convoluted.

But, the actually story, the basic plot, is great! This story of a woman and man, both in love with each other but too afraid of rejection to pursue a relationship, has been nagging me to fix it for the past three years. The funny thing is, when I wrote the first draft, I merely thought it needed a little fixing up. Now, three years and two novels later, I have grown so much as a writer that I now recognize this original first draft of my current project is not in need of fixing up. It is in desperate need of a facelift, tummy tuck, butt lift, cheek implants, hair dye, you name it. It’s ugly.


Other writers might throw such a story on the trash heap and move on, but I can’t do that. This story wants to be told, and I will give it a voice. So, now armed with a new outline and revamped character bios, I am on my way to giving this story the voice she deserves, and I’m already on chapter 3. With any luck, I will be able to keep up the momentum and finish it. Rewriting a story is a hundred times harder than starting from scratch, and it would be a tragedy if I had a sudden bout of writer’s block mid-rewrite. Keep your fingers crossed for me. 

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