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Author Topic: How "rough" is your first draft?  (Read 1161 times)  

Offline DIAMONDSINTHESKY

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2017, 07:24:04 AM »
Not very rough at all. I'm a pantser as well. I tend to "live" in my worlds as I write them, so many plot points/political schemes/characters not yet introduced all live in my head as canon to the point I don't need to plan far ahead on paper. I sit down at the beginning of a series with an idea in mind, a couple of characters, a few twists and turns, etc. Then I just start writing. I'd say 98% of what I write the first time ends up in the final version. I research things before or as I write them to avoid plot holes/nonsensical lore early on. I keep a timeline, since most of my books tend to revolve around war and pivotal events. I tend to have a "point A to point B" idea for my series. Most things between are up in the air. For example: series will begin as a budding rebellion. Series will end with the victory/loss of war.

The only thing I write out long beforehand are "story ideas." I only write one series at a time, though ideas are popping through my head regularly. I'll write something along the lines of, "Fantasy book: MC is a bad*ss mage. Possible theme: acquisition of power and what it does to a person. Necromancy huge focus. Side characters may include..." Then, a few years later, I start writing the story, and some things may be altered.

I don't worry about word count. I do try to keep chapters at similar lengths (3000 to 5000 words). It does bother me a bit if a later book of a series isn't as long as the book that came before it, but I refuse to change my creative vision for the sake of appearances.

Editing usually involves me reading through the book five to ten times before release. My husband reads it and gives me feedback. I read through it at least twice for editing purposes. I use a text-to-speak program for OpenOffice to go through the book again. The other reads are simply because I love the book, though reading for pleasure ends up helping me find mistakes or typos as well. Each time I stop/start writing, I re-read at least a chapter before where I'm at so I can maintain a flow, and I find things that way as well. After release, I tend to continue re-reading my books in paperback, and if I find any further mistakes (which is uncommon) I will upload an edited manuscript. It's not exactly time effective, but I'd be re-reading anyway.

Wait...you mean to say I'm supposed to wear pants?  :o

Much of what Loving Life has said above mirrors the way I write. I knew the story outline and some of the main characters when I started (My book series is multi-perspective, similar to the Marigold Hotel or Game of Thrones novels) but lived in the world through their eyes as I wrote it. Sometimes I would surprise myself as I went along, other things were much more clearly defined from the outset. I think planning does help, it certainly is the key to writing Screenplays for example, so the hard work is done before you beginning, but I think with a novel it's much more important (In my very limited experience) to keep the process a little more organic. I also think getting to the end of the first draft is important and would always urge one to push on because you can so easily get bogged down or demotivated by not just the writing process but any number of other things going on around you in your own life. If you can hit that milestone of getting the first draft completed, reworking and re-writing gets easier from there on in as your shaping what you have already and generally from there you keep gainning momentum.

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2017, 07:28:10 AM »
I'm a thin plotter. I'll fire up Scrivener and lay out the corkboard with a card per chapter, and write up a sentence or two of what happens in each chapter, and then arrange and re-arrange the cards til the book sorta makes sense. Then I start with chapter 1 and write the book from beginning to end, revising the cards as needed to match the story that's unfolding as I go. I like to have the cards as waymakers of where to get next, but leave it flexible as to how exactly characters get there. Having the card outline makes me a much faster and productive writer.

Offline Douglas Milewski

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2017, 08:26:30 AM »
For my dramatic novels, I write out the beginning to learn where I am, then decide on something impossible for the ending. I then write towards that impossible ending. By the time that I get there, I've made that ending not only possible, but make sense. Then I revise the book as a single unit.

For my WIP, which is fluffier and funnier, I'm writing it in 20k chunks. I generally have an idea of each chunk, then I pants my way through that chunk's goals, ending in a big boss fight. As the story imitates a JRPG, I follow the overall thematic developments for the genre. I then revise the chunk, making sure that the whole thing reads like it's supposed to be English. My goal is 20k words per chunk, so I add details and scenes until I hit 20k.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 08:28:52 AM by Douglas Milewski »

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Offline SVD

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2017, 08:37:13 AM »
You could sandpaper a table with mine. 😃

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Offline Ellie Lynn

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2017, 08:46:18 AM »
I'm a little bit of a plotter and a lot of a pantser.
I plot out the general idea of a story, I know where it starts, know where it ends and have a few key points throughout that I know I want to have. The rest is pure pantsing, as I usually have no idea where the characters are going to take me. Sometimes it makes for a really slow finished draft because I don't know what's happening. That's my biggest issue. Reading through everyone's methods does make me think I should maybe worry less about the grammar and mechanics (I'm a compulsive editor when I write), and just... write to get it out. But how do you train yourself to do that after 20 years of doing it the other way? ugh.
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Online Rosie A.

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2017, 09:16:19 AM »
I've enjoyed reading the responses here. It's fascinating learning how other authors create. :)

My process is similar to lovinglife, although I tend to marinate on several ideas at once, bringing them forward when they feel ready to write. I'm a pantser and do my best to produce a clean first draft. I go through several passes correcting grammar, spelling, and plot holes before it goes through editing and proofreading. But I typically don't change anything majorly structural. What's in the first draft stays.

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Offline Michael A. Trevino

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2017, 06:32:42 PM »
My approach is similar to the OP, with a brief outline and milestones in Scrivener. I write approximately in linear order for the first draft, but I add key scenes, ideas, and dialog as I think of them, so that the end comes into fuzzy view long before I write it. I also use a mix of transcription and headset Dragon, although I've not achieved the gains I hoped with this because I still think of story better with pen and paper (which is a problem because I can't read my writing) and am working hard (and soft) to get to that precious flow state while dictating.

But there's a big difference between my approach and Michael's. I don't worry about scene length in a first draft. I do whatever feels most compelling to the story. On into my second draft I might combine small scenes into a single chapter, and I might prune back or split a large scene up, although I always look for a dramatic point to do so, and will write one in if I don't find one.

I've been slowly working transcription in as well.  I've been trying to see where I'm more productive in this regard - headset while watching Scrivener on my laptop or driving around with Scrivener pulled up on my iPad as my outline and dictate into handheld.

Some of this may have to do with placing unreasonable expectations on myself for things such as the first draft and words per day for that matter.  I'm still a practicing attorney and there's period of time where the cases drag more of my time.  Had an old friend message me on Facebook asking if I was a lawyer. (spoiler alert, you can tell from my Facebook)  My answer was simply No, I'm a writer who has to practice law during the day to pay the bills.

Offline Michael A. Trevino

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Re: How "rough" is your first draft?
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2017, 06:44:21 PM »
Reformed pantser. Now follow an adapted version of Libbie Hawker's Truby-esque outlining process from Take Off Your Pants. I usually end up with a very detailed outline now.

First draft is still rough as guts though. The biggest change is between first and second. Third is mostly polish and flow.

One of the few I hadn't read.  Rectifying that one as we speak.  Chris Fox's stuff has had a huge impact on my ability to plot.  Usually when I stray too far I get stuck in the mud.