Archive for July, 2010

Revising My Fast Draft

     Last November I decided to try fast drafting. The result was a 167,000 page rough draft with lots of junk and a few moments of brilliance. I let it sit while I finished the revisions for The Hunt for The Night Unicorn, and now I am looking at it again.

     My initial reaction upon reading it: absolute terror. There were so many words. For my first two manuscripts, I revised extensively as I wrote. As a result, by the time I had the entire manuscript written, it was in pretty good shape. This draft was all over the place–full of dead ends where I had tried things that didn’t work and different versions of the characters as I tried to work out who they were. In other words, it was a mess.

     The one good thing that came out of that initial reading was that I still loved the story, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and plunge in. This first run through would be devoted to digging out the plot and pruning away all the obvious junk. Once I had the size and the shape of the thing, I could start fine-tuning the inside.

     What amazes me as I work is how little of my original draft is making it into the revised copy. I keep the ideas, but a lot of the words change. This may have happened when I wrote the other two as well, but because I was revising as I wrote I didn’t notice it as much. A friend of mine heard a published writer tell how very little of what he originally wrote ended up in his final work, so maybe it’s a hopeful sjgn.

     The one thing I cannot do as I work is look at the word count. Whenever I do that, I get intimidated by the size of the task in front of me. Suddenly, I am finding other things I could do. And with four children at home, there are plently of other things I could do. (I live in a world of perpetual laundry.) The only way to move forward is to work scene by scene–just like Anne Lamott suggests–until, hopefully, it adds up to a finished work. Then I get to revise again.


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