Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Drafts in music- TTT

Time Travel Tuesday is going to be a little different this week :)

Everything in writing is subjective, including the process. Here's what first drafts are like for me. With musical accompaniment for your listening pleasure.

Stage 1. Shiny New Idea.

OMG! This is brilliant. How have I not thought of this before? I want to write this right now. No, I want to write this yesterday. Last week even. Because this story is PERFECT. Too good to be true. (Can't take my eyes off of you, 1998, Lauryn Hill.)

Stage 2. Development.

After starting a few novels that fizzled into nothingness around 14,000 words, I got a little pickier about which ideas I moved forward with and even when I moved forward with them. The next stage of the process is to think. Will I stay interested in this book? If it ultimately sells will I be able to keep at it? Or will I want to eat my manuscript until my stomach explodes?

If you're a 'plotter', you'll spend this stage filling out lists, character sheets, flow charts, etc. But even if you're not a plotter, you should take a while to think about your story, characters and setting, so that you won't get washed too far out to sea on the first draft. (Thik it over, 1958, Buddy Holly.)

3. Pure Pants

(I just saw this on a British writers forum, and remembered that Brits refer to crap as 'pants'. For example, a guy said his first novel was pure pants.)

I'm a pretty hardcore pantser. That's not just a writing thing. I'm a pantser in life :) When I start to write, I'm armed with an idea of my characters, the premise, the setting, and 2 out of 3 for beginning, middle and end. The rest is pure adventure. Where will this go? And how will I get there?

Even if you're not a pantser, there are times the story just takes over. And things come out that shock even you, the writer. (I love this road, Emerson Drive, 2009)

4. The Swamp.

Eventually the honeymoon wears off. And I start to get bogged down. It gets difficult to push forward. I start to doubt whether the story is worth it. It's not different enough from everything out there. Noone will be interested. Suddenly, it's twice as much effort to get in the same amount of work. (Energy, 2008, Keri Hilson)

5. Hate Mail

Unholy walrus fins, Batman! This sucks! What was I thinking? I hate this story. Must I finish it? Please, Mommy, no. I want to hit it with a brick. And kill it. Til it's dead. And then I want to bring it back to life. And kill it again.

Generally, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Noone can say how long, but you come out of the other end and you start to feel a bit more 'maybe' and a little less 'WHERE ARE ALL THE ZOMBIES WHEN YOU NEED THEM???'(7 things, 2008, Miley Cyrus)

6. Wrap up

The end is in sight. The middle kind of sucked, but from here own out, I'm running full steam ahead. The story is kind of carrying me along for the ride. And even if it still feels kind of crappy, I'm far enough along to think. This is editable. (Up! 2002, Shania Twain.)

7. Owari! (Japanese for finished)

I type 'THE END'. And even though I'm exhausted- all my finished novels are nanowrimo products- I'm happy. Manzoku- a feeling of happiness and satisfaction so great that it feels your every fiber and you feel like you might just float away. (Celebration, 1980, Kool and the Gang- who, in case you didn't know, are still touring. They were in Japan last year.)

8. The Big Picture

Whether I'm blazing along the opening pages or slugging through the middle and crusing towards the end, a first draft has this way of being all-encompassing. Logically, you know there's so much more to go, but you still are tempted to try for perfection on the first go-round. After you finish the book and you get a little distance, you start to realise where the strengths lie. And what you can build on for your next draft. And you realise that Part 1 might be over, but really, this is just the beginning. (At the Beginning, 1997, Donna Lewis and Richard Marx.)

That's my first draft journey. What's yours like?

PS, I'm probably on a plane to New York by now. The coolest thing about flying from Tokyo to New York? I leave at 7.20 pm and get in at 6.20 pm. On the same day. I arrive an hour BEFORE I leave! International Date Line ROCKS!

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