Okay, here we go!
Last week, we looked at three simple questions:
- What do you look to achieve in a first draft?
- How extensively do you revise?
- What do you want to get out of an editor?
We’ve assembled a group of talented, diligent authors (see their bios in the orange sidebar – right) and have asked them the same questions.
This week, question one …
Koraly Dimitriadis: ‘With a first draft it’s really about getting your ideas, emotions and plans for the piece of work on the page so you don’t forget. There is nothing more frustrating than walking around all day with poetic lines or ideas in your mind and thinking, I’m going to forget this, I better write it down. I just want to empty myself of the story. I don’t really care what it looks like as I have no intention of showing it to anyone. It’s a brain dump.’
Tess Evans: ‘The short answer is “quite a lot”. I edit extensively on the way. Each day when I start to write, I revise the last few pages from the day before. This serves the dual purpose of rewriting where necessary and re-engaging with the world of the story. I also write each scene as it occurs in the narrative and rarely have to move one. At certain logical points I revise the whole of what I’ve written once again. So by the time I’ve finished the first draft, I expect that the narrative journey will be much the same as in the final draft, the sentences will be coherent and the voice well-established.’
George Ivanoff: ‘With a first draft I’m just aiming to get the story out of my head and onto the computer.’
Julie Koh: ‘For me, the first draft of a short story is about getting it organised. I pin down thoughts and scenes in a rough order that I think makes sense. Once the story is cohesive, and I’m sure it’s going to work well as a whole, then I’ll go through and refine it.’
Ryan O’Neill: ‘The only thing I look for is to get something down, however badly written or full of gaps. Get something down, no matter how bad, and you can work with it and improve it.’
A.S. Patric: ‘I don’t think in terms of drafts when I’m writing. Unless its poetry, where my first draft is my last draft, but that’s probably because I’m not a poet. With any kind of prose of whatever length, all of it is a mass of ideas, character details, themes and motifs, aesthetic pleasures, all evolving together until I feel it’s finished. Different metaphors work for different writers.
‘The drafting idea comes from a craftsman’s perspective where a carpenter might make a beautiful piece of furniture and her first draft might be when she feels what she’s making resembles the object she intended. Her table might not be finished but you can sit down at that table and eat a meal. Another metaphor might lead you to believe that there’s no drafts in writing the same way as there are no drafts in cooking. I put all the ingredients together and it’s ready when I place that meal down on the table for my family to eat.
‘I don’t ever feel like I’m dealing with something dead like wood, steel, concrete or plastic to create something functional, that resembles a chair or table. All of the materials I prefer to use are as close to living as possible. The meat is from the recently slaughtered; the fruit is still warm from the sun. And you are eating it with your friends and family alongside them after you’ve placed it on the table. So there are no drafts in writing for me. It’s fundamentally about taste and nutrition, communing and community.’
Inga Simpson: ‘First draft I’m just trying to get the story down. I’m quite practical and literal for a writer, so a lot of the initial writing process is keeping myself in a certain creative space where the story and characters reveal themselves organically and, at best, subconsciously. I don’t try and order things or plan very much at all. I only write for an hour or two each morning. What bubbles up, those bits that surprise me, are most fun to write and, I suspect, also the most fun to read. Like most writers, I find the middle, between 20,000 and 40,000 words, the most difficult – when the end is so far out of sight.’
Laurie Steed: ‘For me, the first draft is really about nutting out the foundations: Character, setting, and the key conflict. With that said I always ensure that the first draft is finished in one sitting, if at all humanly possible, so that it also captures a mood, or tone that I felt in that first rush of creativity.’
Next Week: Question 2!