Monday, December 01, 2008

Rationalizing 101

Why I Hate First Drafts:
1. I don't know who my character is. (I mean really and truly who she is.)
2. I don't know what the story is. (I mean the actual truth of the story.)
3. I don't like writing badly. (And I've yet to find the magical pen that writes beautiful first drafts.)

How I'm Trying to Avoid These Problems with My Work-in-Progress:
1. I'm thinking about my character as much as possible, imagining what she would say or do if she were with me all day long. She's practically my invisible friend!
2. I'm outlining and re-outlining and re-re-outlining in an effort to get to the one essential truth of the story.
3. I'm not writing at all.

I realize at some point I'm going to have to actually write something. A chapter. And another chapter. And so on. That's kind of the key to writing a book. (Duh.) But until then, I'm not going to feel bad that I have nothing to show my critique group, my agent, or my editor. (At least not too bad.) I'm not going to focus on the fact that I started developing this idea four months ago. (Yikes!) This isn't procrastination or writer's block or any other negative sounding label. This is just the way I work. (Life is busy with three teens and a puppy, you know.)

Maybe all this thinking and pre-writing will help in the long run. Maybe when I finally write this draft, the story will come out in the beautiful and magical way I'm imagining it.

It doesn't hurt to hope.


Karen said...

Your blog looks nice! I like the title of the Valentine book too. Good luck with the writing!

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Karen!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of outlining. I totally overwrote my first book and had to cut about 25,000 words. That was so painful that I vowed to never let it happen again.

For my next two books I used an outline. I developed enough experience at the outline process that I was able to write the third book in two months and edit it in about 3 weeks. That book went so amazingly smoothly that I couldn't believe it was any good. I didn't think I'd suffered enough. But all my "beta readers" really like it, so I must have done something right.

I think the process you're going through now is bound to be helpful. But I also believe it's inevitable that you'll discover nuances about the character as you're writing the book, and that those nuances will change things.

Then again, maybe someone will give you one of those magical pens this holiday season. :)

Brenda Ferber said...

Lisa, that's amazing! I would love to write so quickly. I outlined my first two books, but still took about a year to write the first draft.