Posts Tagged ‘revising’

My rule about first drafts is that they only go in one direction–forward. Creating the first draft and revising/editing it in subsequent drafts are two very different tasks that each require a very different frame of mind. Writing a first draft all the way to “The End” requires that I resist the urge to let myself get into the editor frame of mind.

That doesn’t, of course, mean that I can’t go back and make a note. I almost have to since I discovery write and sometimes I discover something that will require a change to something I wrote earlier or, more often, something that will need at least a touch of foreshadowing–you know, like the fact that dragons exist in this world if a dragon or two are suddenly going to show up in, like, Chapter 30. (That’s a reference to another story I need to circle back to sometime, MAGE STORM.)

I also belong to one writing group that reads a few chapters at a time every month or so. This works really well. It lets me know what aspects of the story are working and which need a bit more work. As per the rule above, I incorporate ideas from these critiques as notes and move on–usually.

However, right now, as I’m trying to rebuild momentum after a couple of unplanned stops pauses, I’m thinking this might be a good time to break that rule.

In this particular case, my critique partner wanted more emotion about a particular past event that isn’t directly shown, but only referred to. I agree, in general. Particularly because this event is the cause of one of my main characters . . . what K. M. Weiland would refer to as his “ghost”. Something he believes, that isn’t really true, that holds him back, at least temporarily.

The problem is that this particular place in the story–at the start of a battle–isn’t the place for soul searching or a lot of emotion that doesn’t have to do with not getting killed or letting too many of his men get killed, either. I had actually toyed with the idea of deleting that paragraph or two for just that reason. But I need to get the information in somewhere and I’m not sure where else to put it. Plus, it ties into his motivation in that moment.

What I can do is have him firmly repress that emotion and memory because this is not the time or place for it. But then I still have to figure out how to get that emotion in somewhere else. And I can see pretty clearly how and where to do exactly that. And it would be adding not editing.

So, this feels like a good time to break that first draft rule, just a little. Hopefully, it’ll even help me build momentum for the story as a whole.


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