Friday, February 7, 2014

Adventures in Fiction Writing: Preparing Yourself for the SUICIDAL SECOND DRAFT

Okay, so, you wrote your book.
It was tough, and it took a long time: months, probably, but sometimes even YEARS.
It started with a feverish idea that wouldn't leave your brain and it grew into this whole messy, exciting THING, this STORY.
You wrote when you were excited about it. And you wrote when you weren't. You wrote when you felt like a hack and the story sounded dumb to your own ears. You wrote when the very act of writing felt like disembowelment...but you ALWAYS wrote.

I wrote a whole book!

And now it's done. At least, the first draft is. You can hardly believe it. It's such a relief and you're so proud of yourself and you feel like celebrating (hopefully you DO celebrate), but then you go online...

...And you realize that what you thought had been the hard part was actually just the warm up.

The first draft is the easy part, they say.
The real work is in the revisions, they say. 
Also, they say, the test of a real writer is the re-writing. Because, dontcha know, anyone can write a FIRST DRAFT.

(Pause for the obligatory eye rolling.)

So, they say, be prepared for a lot of tears and a lot of sleepless nights, because the difference between a writer and a PUBLISHED AUTHOR is how well you handle revision.

Somebody shoot me.

Just who the hell are THEY, anyway? Why do THEY make the writing rules?

Well, here's the thing. THEY are probably people you know and/or respect. They're your friends and fellow writers. They're published authors you've read and admired. They're creative writing teachers.

In short, THEY are people who know. They're people who've been there. They're survivors of the SUICIDAL SECOND DRAFT.

Of course that makes it harder to hate them, which frankly sucks. The last thing you want to realize after all the work you put into your first draft is that now you have to do it all AGAIN, only BETTER, and probably SEVERAL MORE TIMES. But that's the frustrating truth of the matter. And it's also the difference between the ART of writing and the CRAFT of writing.

The ART of writing is in the drunken exhilaration of the first draft. 

The CRAFT of writing is in the care and attention of the revisions.

Both are essential for a good story. And to be fair, both have their moments of joy. But if you're like me, you MUCH prefer the former to the latter. Which is why I chose to call the second draft the SUICIDAL SECOND DRAFT, because it makes me want to slit my wrists. But hang in there! It gets better. The third draft is less painful than the second, and by the time you get to the fourth, you've generally fallen in love with you WIP again.

...because I still write with a pencil!

Wait a minute!


There are more than 2 drafts?

Oh, sister, there are soooo many more than 2! 

(Insert evil laugh.)

Sorry for laughing. But yes, if you're a normal human being there are going to be way more than two drafts required to turn your fledgling WIP into a literary masterpiece. There is no formula that specifies how many drafts your WIP needs because there are no hard and fast rules. Every writer is different, and every WIP is different. The only thing you can depend on is that your novel needs a lot of love and attention. 

Go on! Give your novel all the love and care it needs. It deserves it! And I'll be here to hold your hand in the long as you promise to hold mine. The SUICIDAL SECOND DRAFT is rough, y'all.

Ready to Revise!