First Drafts

14 Jan

Those of you who follow my blog have seen several posts entitled, The Actress and the Warlock parts I, II, III. It is an experiment that I started after a writing exercise during a writer’s group meeting. For those who are just viewing this blog for the first time, let me give you a little background. I took the character and setting from the writing exercise and am trying to write a complete story using a series of flashes. So far, each flash has run fifteen or thirty minutes. Once the timer goes off, I finish my last thought and go back over the piece to clean up spelling and obvious grammar issues so I don’t look like a complete idiot when I post it. They are VERY rough pieces.

I’m still not sure where the characters are going to take me and that’s half the fun. But, to help keep some continuity, I went back to the beginning and am taking notes on what I have already written. Three things jumped out at me as I re-read the first drafts.

One, I need to add more sensory interaction, including character tags and traits. This was not really surprising to me. I am trying to write as fast as I can (which is not all that fast) in a limited amount of time. So, the result is the bare bones plot with very little description or back story. I like to take my time and look through character and setting notes to add these details. Giving the reader key sensory details makes the characters and setting come alive.

The second thing that I realized is that I will need to add considerably more tension during the re-write. This did surprise me a little. Maybe it’s because, I see the story in my head and the tension is there. However, because I am writing fast, the tension does not make it to the keyboard as fast as my mind has laid it out.

Lastly, writing in first person POV is different from what I’m used to. This is my first extended experience writing in first person. It’s fun in that I am the protagonist with all of his traits and abilities. However, I have to be careful handling the other characters since I no longer know what they are thinking. I can only respond to their words,  actions and what I already know about them.

I need to hold off starting any re-writing until I finish the first draft. I do need to create some back story on a couple of the characters. They came into being outside my usual method so I have to do some character building based on what I’ve written so far.

So far this has been fun and educational. I originally thought this would be a short story, but it seems like it will go much longer. I will just keep writing the flashes and see where it takes me. I hope you are enjoying this project and I look forward to hearing any feedback you would like to share.


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Thoughts on Writing


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10 responses to “First Drafts

  1. scottweberwriter

    January 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I think that this is how many genre writers get their stuff on paper, write like crazy and don’t worry how good it is at first. Re-write once you are finished. Tell the story, then write the book. I hope it goes great for you.

  2. Dennis Langley

    January 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    “Tell the story, then write the book.” That is making more sense all the time. Thanks.

  3. annewoodman

    January 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    “I need to add considerably more tension in the rewrite”–that’s exactly what I often find in my own work, and for the same reason, Dennis! I guess the details are all there in our minds (especially when it’s a first person POV), so when we go back to see what’s actually on the page, we are surprised! But I think that’s exactly what first drafts are for. If we wrote everything perfectly the first time around, we wouldn’t be human. ; )

    I agree with Scott (above). Get the story out, then worry about all the bad parts later.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      You are right. We would not be human, but it would make writing a whole lot easier. 🙂

  4. robincoyle

    January 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I did quite a bit of editing as I went along in my writing. I think the process helped me spot pitfalls in the writing I did after the editing process. Did that make sense?

    • Dennis Langley

      January 15, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Uh… not really. It sounds like you were editing as you wrote which made the editing process easier?

      • robincoyle

        January 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

        Yeah . . . Wrote. Paused. Went back to edit. Kept writing. Repeat. It worked for me, but everyone needs to do what works for them.

      • Dennis Langley

        January 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        True statement. That’s why we are individuals.

  5. 4amWriter

    January 15, 2013 at 5:36 am

    I am trying to write my NaNo ’12 novel by laying out the bare bones first, then strapping on the flesh. Ooh, sounds positively gruesome! 🙂 This would be a different method than how I wrote my first novel (which I pantsed). Sometimes I think the type of story dictates how it should be written. Some novels just pour right out of us, and therefore we have no choice but to pants them. Others come in bits and pieces, and so your idea of using timed flashes is appropriate for a novel like that. I’ll be interested to see how it continues to go for you.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 15, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Okay, gruesome works. What concerns me is how easy the flash writing is coming as compared to my WIP which seems more like work. I still enjoy the story and the writing of it, but I have to think about it more. I think there may come a time with the flash writing where I hit a wall with the plot. I hope not, but not knowing ahead of time what’s coming is a little scary.


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