Saturday, February 26, 2011

Those First Drafts

I think everyone has one of those first drafts. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the idea that you got all hyped up about because it was going to be your breakout novel. You sweated over it; fed your family with fast food and frozen dinners for months just so you could finish it, and as soon as “The End” was typed, a huge sigh of relief flowed out from in between your lips.

Then you did what all the professionals tell you do with your first draft—tuck it away for a bit so you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Problem is during that time you realize maybe it isn’t that great of an idea. You get a chance to think about how weak the plot is and how your characters are nothing more than stereotypes. You start thinking how stupid it is that you even attempted to write anything in the first place. You stink. Why would anyone want to read the drivel you tossed together and dare to call a manuscript?

I have one of those first drafts too. I didn’t spend months working on it. It took years. I can still remember the happy dance I did when I typed, “The End.” That was five years ago and I’m still not hot to work on it.


I guess my mind changed focus. I felt called to write for children instead of an adult market. I got so far as to pull out the old manuscript this September to consider sending in the first page to be critiqued by an agent panel at a writers conference I was planning to attend. I read that first page and I saw all the weaknesses and none of the strengths; didn’t even consider that I had revised that portion over six times to make it perfect and got a thumbs-up from my own critique group.

A writing friend of mine attended the same writers conference. He had a face-to-face meeting with an agent who requested 100 consecutive pages of his manuscript. I asked him about it at church on Sunday. Guess what he’s doing?

Going over 100 pages and finding only weaknesses and no strengths. He’s ready to start over and revise the whole darn thing.

Is it any wonder we don’t always make it past that first draft?

This post first appeared at Life in the First Draft on November 17, 2010.


Karen Cioffi said...

It is tough to get your draft in a condition you're happy with, moving it into the manuscript form. I guess that's where perseverance comes in. :)

I have one of those also. Thanks for prompting me to get back to it.

Cheryl said...

I'm glad you found my post helpful, Karen.