Rolling Through the Rough Draft
Writing is actually pretty simple, at least as long as you keep one thing in mind. I’m a writer; the rough draft has no power over me. It is creation, you are the creator. Before your 10 digits dance across the keyboard or scrawl across the pages of a steno while ideas rain around you, the rough draft is nothing more than a never was.
At first, those erratic fragments of thought don’t need to make sense to anyone other than you. When you’re scribbling your sloppy copy, it’s far more important to capture ideas than it is to train them. Rewriting, well that’s a different story.
Only after the draft is sitting finished on the table, should you wade through your stream of thoughts to decide which are worthy of living and which ideas must be murdered in cold blood, abandoned to rough draft refuse, and shed like old unneeded skin.
This is where it can get difficult. You must draft your revision with care, wandering through your prior words with discretion while trying to make your self love and loathing link hands and skip rope. If the first draft is a tornado of ideas, the second is when it’s time to determine what’s imperative to the narrative and what must be dragged to the trash and wiped from the hard drive.
Not too long ago, I was looking at the rough draft of my novel. Rather, I was crawling through the pages of an overly long and tedious section. This particular piece seems to simply go on and on and on some more, adding a dollop of drivel rather than driving the story. Back in the rough draft, when flow was more important than direction, I fell in love with this ordinary middle class family that lies in the center of an otherwise fantastic yarn. Apparently, I also fell in love with every machination of their day.
In the rough draft, a lovingly tedious narrative follows this family as they go a shopping trip the day after Christmas. They rise from rest, go shopping, have lunch, then drive around town a bit before finally heading back home. They throw themselves a fashion show, strut their new ensembles, then sit down to their evening meal. Not one single event, relevant to the story, occurs until well after dinner.
If that sounds boring, I thank you for your faith. The actual text reads with the amount of excitement typically found in a chess game played by mail. Now imagine the scene elasticized to 3000 words or so and you’ll get an idea about the roughness of my draft.
Funny thing is I was in love with that chapter prior to writing it. I smiled in my head as I fell to sleep, certain I’d adore it the next day in black and white.
I loathed if fiercely in the rewrite. 30 pages pass without a single event essential to the story. That’s like promising to take your kids to Disneyland, but telling them you have to drive through Arizona first.
Never let your ideas fade. There is a beautiful story buried in that shopping trip. It just happens to be in the wrong book. I don’t yet know where it will one day be. I only know where it will not go. A good writer can never allow affection for their own worlds or worlds to take precedence over the merit and direction of the tale.
This entire section now reads, “Later, at dinner…”
The Collective Inkwell Community Question: Writing Great Copy‘s important. Do you have a hard time editing your work, or do you find it difficult to delete your ideas?
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