First Draft

I want to make my first draft perfect, but that's impossible.

So I try to make it decent, so it will be easy to fix later or for beta readers to find the flaws. But that's impossible too. I don't know what "decent" is.

So I try to write something interesting, so beta readers will like it and (hopefully) put more effort into making it better. But every beta reader likes different things.

Anyway, that's just a different kind of perfect.

So I try to write the best first draft that I can write at this moment. But I don't know what that is. I always doubt if what I wrote is my best, then I delete it and have to start over.

So I settle for just writing a first draft. I can worry about all that other stuff later.


(Honestly, I usually get stuck on paragraph 2. How do you approach first drafts?)

18 comments:

Ellis Shuman said...

In my case, I would never show a beta reader my first draft. Only when I edited/revised it into a presentable second draft did I begin showing it to others.

The first draft was written emotionally and as quick as possible, but in the second draft I made it somewhat like the novel it will one day be.

Adam Heine said...

That's true, Ellis. I often forget that when I'm writing the draft, though. I think, "This'll be good enough! Then I can send it to everybody!"

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I just fall in love with the story and write. I know no one's going to see it until I'm ready for them to, so I don't worry about that. The terror comes when someone wants to see it before I'm ready!!

Heidi Windmiller said...

I just get it down on paper. I know that some parts are going to be great and others not so much, but none of that matters at the drafting point.

Then I ship the whole mess off to my wonderful alpha and she helps with all the plotting and what not. She might read it twice before I'd ever think of sending it out a beta. I really only use a beta when I don't know how to improve it anymore.

Bane of Anubis said...

I approach first drafts like I approach computer programs. I'll hash it out as I go, then fix any earlier bugs as they crop up. As always, the deeper into the program you get, the more bugs there are and the more complex the code becomes, but if I don't address it now, the code will be FUBAR.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I hear you, Adam.

I pretty much puke it all out on paper.

And then I start over again. I rarely use a single word from my first draft in my second draft, but that's just me. Usually it's not even worth editing. I think if I were a planner and plotter, my first drafts might be better, but my brain doesn't work that way. ;)

Amy

Matthew MacNish said...

I just outline, and then write. It's that simple. In fact, sometimes I can even start writing before I'm done outlining.

jjdebenedictis said...

A combination of, "Aw crap, this outline is never gonna make sense--JUST WRITE!" and "La, la, la--it's allowed to suck mightily--la, la, la."

Myrna Foster said...

I don't let anyone read my first drafts. I clean it up on the second draft. I don't recommend my way though; those second drafts take almost as long as the first ones.

Shakespeare said...

Beta readers need to be carefully selected. If they tend to detest everything I read, everything I love, they will likely detest what I write as well.

If someone says they love Harry Potter and Jane Austen, I know the person's a candidate. Especially if they love Colin Firth best as Mr. Darcy.

I suppose we all need our litmus test.

That said, I don't worry about sending my first draft out--ever, to anybody. Did I say EVER? Maybe by the third or fourth I'll have something decent to offer them.

Adam Heine said...

Heidi wrote: "I really only use a beta when I don't know how to improve it anymore."

Yes! At least, that's the idea. It's so hard for me not to just ship it out hoping someone can "fix it for me."

Adam Heine said...

@JJ: Get out of my head! ;-)

@Shakespeare: Interesting. While genre fans tend to get my fiction better, I do find interesting feedback from non-genre readers. They may not get the SF/F bits, but they often have interesting things to say on the characters or relationships.

So I definitely go to SF/F readers more than most, but I'm not picky :-)

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm a chunk writer and a panster. A chunkypants writer. So I just start writing random scenes and when I get a whole lot of them or two that seem to go together I merge them.

I never know exactly when I'm done with a first draft or if it has bled into a second draft because of the rewriting involved in putting the scenes together. After the third draft or so though it gets a little more defined.

linda said...

Sigh. In my head I know I need to get the words down, but I have such a hard time doing so when I feel like I'm wasting my efforts, writing stuff that'll just get edited out later. Thanks for the reminder to just get it done and worry later.

Adam Heine said...

@linda: Yes! That feeling of wasted effort is what kills me too. I'm slowly coming to believe (I mean truly believe) that no matter how perfect I think my first draft is, I'm going to have a lot of cutting and rewriting to do :-)

Victoria Dixon said...

I sympathize! I have started two drafts for two different stories this year. The first one I got through half the novel while having no idea where I was going with it or how it would end beyond a ballpark idea. I know now, I need more research on that one before I can return to it. The second novel/series I got to chapter two before I realized I was on the wrong track and could go no further. I'm now trying to create an entire world for that series. We'll see if that helps. LOL

Amber Cuadra said...

I usually treat my first draft as a very detailed outline, something where I can hash out all of the information and scenes and such without having to really worry about making it brilliant or perfect or interesting.

Adam Heine said...

A very detailed outline. I like that, Amber!