I’m exhausted today. Not because I’ve been working my fingers to the bone, slaving over a smoking-hot keyboard (the underside of it is smoking-hot and has slowly been cooking my right leg for the last several weeks). No, I’m absolutely knackered because I went round to a friend’s house last night and only left just before 3am. I finally put my light out just before 4am. And got out of bed just after 10am. Why? I had this strange idea that, just because I’m not going out to work, I still should put in a full day’s work on the writing.
I have no idea where this sudden work ethic has sprung from. Normally it’s great. Today? Huh. I could have done without it. Still, at least I will get some work done. *blinks*
For equally unfathomable reasons, I remembered what I have been meaning to blog about since Sunday: editing the first draft.
Now, if you’ve ever wondered about this, chances are you will have come across a huge amount of advice regarding the quality of your first draft and 99% of it will say exactly the same thing: that your first draft is 100% guaranteed to be a complete crock and you will need to do drastic re-writing and editing, including filling in numerous plot holes and wholesale murder of little darlings before you should even think about letting that beast see the light of day.
Naturally I assumed this would be true of my first draft. So I edited the first three chapters down into one chapter and then changed the beginning altogether before dutifully sending what was now the first four chapters (previously chapters one to six) off to my critique partner.
Who hated them.
Bear in mind this is a woman who ranted and raved to me over the course of six weeks how amazing my story was, etc, etc. Even I was nauseated and I will usually take any and all praise handed my way.
So, yeah, hated them. “Aren’t you writing YA?” she asked. “This feels adult now.”
I can’t record here the words with which I greeted this comment. Suffice to say, there were a lot of them and they were all bad. Some of them weren’t even in the dictionary, but trust me, they were bad.
Luckily I still had the first edit I did (where I put three chapters in one but before I changed the beginning) so I sent her that. “Yes!” she said. “That’s better!”
*Cue much sighing and attempted replacement of torn out hair.*
Strangely enough, I recently read a post by Tahereh Mafi on revisions (among other things), but thought that it couldn’t possibly apply to me. Basically, she writes a pretty clean first draft and then revisions are just adding layers and clearing up little things. I mention this woman because she’s 23 years old and her debut, Shatter Me, ready for querying after only one round of revisions, is due out this November and has already been optioned for film. Obviously for some people, a reasonably good first draft is a distinct possibility.
I had also been ignoring the fact that my critique partner’s first draft of her current work in progress is also very clean. So far I haven’t spotted any plot holes, which isn’t to say there aren’t any, but certainly no real clankers. When I explained to her that everyone says a first draft is always awful, she pointed out “You are too anal retentive to write an awful first draft”.
Couldn’t argue with that.
What about you? How does your first draft show up in the cold, clear light of day? Is it full of holes requiring work with a bulldozer or is your editing process just tightening and layering, rather than full on rewrites?