Friday, March 26, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Yeah, I'm talking mind games again. Remember when I mentioned expanding the definition of "first draft" to keep myself loose as I write? I thought it was cool that you guys understood. Your comments heightened that I'm-so-glad-I'm-blogging-and-interacting-with-lots-of-other-writers feeling, and they made me really think about my writing process. That's important because I never want to become stagnant as a writer; there's always room for growth.

So here's where I am now: My group met and we discussed the first chapters of my new WIP. It went well, in my humble opinion, though I'm definitely still writing my way into the novel. While I have an outline, it's very fluid. Some things looked great on the outline, but when I started writing...they
had to be changed or tweaked. As we discussed the chapters, we brainstormed a bit. Great stuff came to the surface, which equals more changes.

I'm excited! My OCD brain loves strengthening the beginning of the story before launching into the rest. Then I know I'm building on top of something that's fairly sturdy. Once I get
in deeper, I'll have to go back fewer times--though I'll still have to go back. At least that's been my pattern in the past. Sometimes, I won't allow myself to go back; in those cases, I'll write myself notes so I can push forward and make the changes later. But when I'm at the beginning, I need this "writing in" period. And while I'm finding every manuscript is different, I've been doing this long enough to have figured out some of the things that work for me and other things that don't. Of course, some of these may change over time.

Getting back to the mind games, I turned in my new chapter when we met. I reminded my critique group that this
is the first draft. Obviously, they were fully aware of this.
But still. It fed the first draft magic in my head. I know that chapter has too much exposition at the beginning of it. I know it's there for me, and I'll end up cutting most of it later, if not next week. I also know there's really good stuff in that chapter--things that will make me want to sit down and write every day and tell a whole story. I'm comfortable with all this because I'll clean up the whole book before any agents or editors see it. Dang, I'll revise it several times before any humans outside of critique group get their eyes on it!

But guess what?
I'm still writing the first draft. I. Love. That.

Some of you have already answered this, but do you consider it a first draft when you rework a chapter several times? I read the term "zero draft" yesterday. Can someone tell me what that is? It sounds like a mind game I might like... ;)

I'll close with a picture of Pepper and Thistle. They have nothing to do with this post, but they're so darn cute, aren't they?!


Susan R. Mills said...

Yes, I consider it a first draft even if I rework a chapter several times. Until I get to "The End", it's still a first draft.

Travener said...

I'm with Susan. Until the last sentence of the last chapter is done, it's still a first draft.

Are those whippets?

Dawn Simon said...

Susan and Travener, that's how I look at it, too! Some chapters will be rewritten again and again (and again...), but it's all first draft, in my mind, until I say the first version is done. :)

Travener, they are Whippets. We LOVE them.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't label things much. I just keep writing and doing what comes next. If it helps someone feel better, I say call the 20th draft the first draft - Whatever works!

Dawn Simon said...

Jemi, I totally agree with you--do whatever works. But I need my mind games. Maybe I'll grow out of it? ;)

Anonymous said...

Are Pepper and Thistle whippets or greyounds? They're very beautiful :o)

Anonymous said...

oops 'greyHounds'

storyqueen said...

Love your hounds! I have had a couple of greyhounds in the past.

It is the first draft until a draft is in I have completed the last bit. After that, it becomes draft #whatever (15 on my last book.)


Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I agree with the others, it's still a rough draft until I finish to the end. And I'm like you, sometimes I just can't help going back and tweaking and changing along the way. I have to write my way in as well.

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Niki! They're Whippets. I thought you'd like the picture of Pepper and Thistle. I know you're a true animal lover. :)

Shelley, I love hounds, too! Fun to learn you had greyhounds! Yay that I categorize drafts the same way everyone else does.

Hi, Roni! Yeah, I'm quite methodical. I often comb changes through as I go, but not when it interferes with my overall progress.

Molly Hall said...

I saw the term "zero draft" for the first time this week too! I like it. I take it as meaning: this is not really an example of my writing, this is me scooping the story up from stardust and sand piles and laying it out for myself to see it. And by the way I get to write it messily until I get to THE END. Then you write your "first" draft. But that is only my impression of what a zero draft could be.
I share your feelings about beginnings. They are crucial. And difficult. And truly take a ton of craft and skill and inspiration to get right. If there is any such thing! I am about to take apart the beginning of my ms and I shudder at the difficulty of it. But I know it will make it better!!!

Solvang Sherrie said...

We think so similarly :)
And we're at the same place with our WIPs. Actually, now that I've written the first fifty pages and have a better feel for the characters, I want to go back and try some different things in the beginning and see how that affects the story, maybe rethink my outline a bit. It's fun to play with the first draft that way before I start feeling like it's set in stone!

Amy Holder said...

Pepper and Thistle are ADORABLE! Just had to get that out first. :)

I also consider it a first draft until the last word of the last chapter is written. I'm one of those people who have writing ADD, and have NEVER gotten through the full first draft without going back and revising chapters. It makes editing easier when I'm done... but it also makes for a longer first draft writing process.

Sounds like things are going well with your WIP & crit group! That's great!

I have a blog award for you on my blog. :)


Hooray for the 2009 award for PERFECT VISION - you truly are on your way. I've been at this long enough to know.

I loved reading your blog and will return.

Love all the writing blogs and I thought I was alone in this endeavor...

Dawn Simon said...

Molly, I like your definition of a zero draft--and the way you said it. :) Good luck dissecting your beginning! You always have such a great attitude!

Sherrie, that's because we're both brilliant. Hee! Seriously, I'm glad you feel we think similarly. :) We are in the same place!

Hi, Amy! Pepper, Thistle, and I thank you for the compliment! Yes, it makes editing easier even though it stretches out that first draft time period. While I LOVE the freedom of the first draft, it feels amazing when you get to move past it! Thank you for the award! :) You're sweet.

Barb, thanks for the words of encouragement! Also, thanks for the visit and the follow. I like your blog, too. Yeah, the writing blogs/bloggers are super cool.

Anonymous said...

I'm at the beginning of the first draft and struggling to allow my writing to suck.

Dawn Simon said...

Laura, good luck with embracing the suckage! ;)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I should probably keep better track of my drafts, but I really only count them when it's an edit of the entire MS. I tinker all along the way, add, and delete things, but that doesn't count. At least not in my world.

Dawn Simon said...

Stephanie, I count them the same way you do, and I don't think you need to keep better track--unless you want to. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Me again - I've got an award for you over at my blog :)

Dawn Simon said...

Thank you, Jemi! :)