Drafting Away!

Day 4 – “D” Drafting (The First Stages)

As I alluded to in my post on Character Development, I am a tad obsessive about outlining (a topic I will discuss in further detail later in this challenge). What happens when that stage of the writing process ends? One can only outline, plot, and plan so much. When I feel that I have reached the stage when I have developed enough of a road map to start building my first draft on, I start to write version number one.

My first drafts change and evolve so much throughout the process of bringing my sketches to life. I often find myself going back and modifying previous sections to match the direction the story goes. One of the things I outline prior to writing the first version, is a chapter layout to help me piece together sections as I write them. I rarely write any first drafts of chapters in order. I write them as I’m particularly inspired to write on said subject, tying them together in the editing stages.

Bouncing back and forth between chapters, between sections, as I go is certainly not the most efficient way to write (as opposed to writing chronologically). I’ve found that if I force myself to write out the events of the story in order, and I force myself to write a scene I’m not truly interested in at that time (say a perky scene when I’m in a shitty mood), I have to rewrite the entire section so it comes off as authentic later on.

I’m typically not as concerned with grammar, syntax, transitions, etc. during my first drafts. Worrying about all of these elements early on affects my ability to genuinely convey and thoroughly detail the events and experiences. I write to get the story down on paper. I write to get that first version out and presented in a manner that I can modify and morph into my vision at a later date.

Are there any particular processes you follow when you are writing your first drafts? Do you write in any particular order, or do you write what feels right at the time and later piece your stories together? Do you worry about the more technical elements of writing as you go along, or focus on editing these things later on?



12 thoughts on “Drafting Away!

  1. Great post! I love seeing how other writers do things. I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of writer. I don’t plan, organize, or outline. I write whatever pops in my head at the moment I am writing. And I am a linear writer. I write scene by scene, no jumping around. Before I can begin a new section, I have to re-read everything I’ve written, make corrections, ensure that everything meshes, and only then can I begin writing again. This is probably why I only write poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and novellas. If I ever wrote a novel, it would take me years to complete it.

  2. I write similarly to you. I outline, but change the outline as I’m writing. I treat the first draft as a way to get the story out. I don’t necessarily do it in chronological order for the same reasons you list above. I write what I am “feeling” at the moment of writing. I do a lot a lot of rewrites.
    My current WIP is continually shifting and morphing. I feel like I am growing an onion from the inside out. Each draft and edit adds another layer. At some point I hope it will feel done and at the point it needs to be. I have a ways to go.

  3. You obviously have a much more organized way of writing than I do, Christina. I always fly by the seat of my pants on books. I start at the beginning and write to the end. No outlines, but I sure always have a million little pierces of scrap paper and sticky notes cluttering my office from research.

  4. I am just now setting out to write what I hope turns into my first novel. I am not sure of my process yet. If it’s like my other writing it will be random. I was sitting last night trying to write a scene and it just wasn’t coming to me. I knew what I wanted to happen but it was forced and just junk. So, I stopped.

    I am not someone that outlines but I decided I needed some direction. I wrote out the basics of the story. I think I’m going to steal your idea of a chapter by chapter breakdown and writing what I’m in the mood for. It fits my nature far more than outlining the whole thing and has got to be more productive than staring at a blank screen wishing the words to come in some predetermined order.

    1. For chapter breakdown, I have a few pages set aside in the notebook I’m currently using for my outlining, and have one page dedicated to each chapter. On each of these pages, I have a either a brief outline, some bullets of what happens in that chapter OR I have a ton of sticky notes that I move around frequently. I find that this helps me organize the scenes and events that I know need to happen, but I’m uncertain as to where they are going to go. This allows me to move things around to help me get a more solid layout.

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