Writing phases

I've been writing short stories for the past week or two and realized how much I dislike writing the first rough draft of anything. It's a very uncomfortable time for me. It's messy, sketchy. I only have a general idea of where I'm going. It's like walking through the darkness without a flashlight. The only light is the quarter moon. I see the general shapes of things around me. I might trip over a root, smack my forehead into a tree trunk or step in a deep hole. Half the time I'm crawling. And all I want to do is hurry and get through this uncomfortable phase so I can move on to my favorite stages of writing, 2nd draft through polishing. My rough drafts of novels tend to be very short, and like I said, sketchy, maybe 50 pages when the entire book will be 300 - 400 pages. They consist mostly of dialogue and a few actions. Sometimes a scene is one line. So and so will do such and such here. I'll figure out how later. When I get that rough draft done...whew! Now, 2nd draft, I can REALLY get into the story and have some fun. Now I can get in FLOW. This is when hours seem like minutes and I'm transported to another world. This happens for me whether it's a 10 page short story or a 450 page novel. As writers, we must discover our process and accept it, even if we wish parts of it could be different.

2 comments:

randy said...

Hm. I've never really tried this method, Vonda. Maybe I should. Lord knows, what I've BEEN trying, ain't working. :) Here I am, several months into my WIP, with what I THOUGHT was a decent, pretty fleshed out plot outline (my first), and I'm discovering two secondary characters getting much bigger roles than I'd planned. Not only that, but they're steering the story away from the direction it's supposed to go. It wouldn't be so bad--normally, I'd say "go for it"--but they're kids and I don't like writing kid characters. (Not that I have anything against children, but I don't have 'em
and I hardly know any!) Sigh. Maybe if I wrote out the whole story like you do, I'd see these piftfalls way ahead of time...like before I've written 100 pages and spent months agonizing....

Vonda said...

Not sure, Randy. Since each person's process is different it's hard to say. The quick rough draft method works for me. But some people like to write 50 page outlines or 50 page synopses. Others like graphs and charts. Others fly by the seat of the pants and have no idea what will happen in the next chapter, and yet they end up with a cohesive plot. What you might want to do is try lots of different approaches and see what works best for you. Just experiment. As for plotting vs. pantsing, I'm somewhere in the middle. I have to know what my overall story structure is, the bare bones, but I go by instinct on what actually happens within scenes. Best of luck finishing yours!