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Crappy first drafts (1 Viewer)

KeganThompson

Senior Member
Currently I am drafting some trash. I am getting out of the 'perfectionist mentality that often makes me too scared to write at times. When I first got back into writing I didn't like the idea of my first daft being trash or at least not great. I also didn't like the idea of editing a lot...over time I got my head out of my rear and realized that's part of writing. Writing is rewriting. I am drafting and highlighting things I want to reword/don't know if it works/ want to go into more detail etc. I will write a few paragraphs just to get a general idea there but man...there is no pretty writing in those paragraphs. 😆 I plan to go back in and do line edits, rejigging the sentence to make it less bleh...
I hate looking at something knowing it sucks but I gotta do what I gotta do to get stuff done I suppose. I try to think of writing in terms of drawing, this draft is like a rough sketch...some places are more detailed while others have the basic shape. But it will all come together at the end (I hope) I'm still learning my style and writing process...
How bad are your first drafts? Some do more revisions than others depending on style etc. Curious to hear what your drafting process is like :)
 

Turnbull

Senior Member
I used to feel like my first drafts were stronger than they first were. Now that I'm more aware of my writing, this impression is...inaccurate. However, it's still technically true, as my anxiety has me writing faster than I want to. I put things down before thinking them through. Sometimes I even skip over bits I'm not sure about, or get ideas of how to rearrange it later. On my current draft of a story, my scenes are only roughly chronological, and I have to hammer it all out. This is not a good way to write. It's better to be a little too confident than to be too discouraged.

But it's generally okay if you just get it all out and edit later. It helps to kind of "forget" your first feelings towards your draft and go for a more realistic edit.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
I used to feel like my first drafts were stronger than they first were. Now that I'm more aware of my writing, this impression is...inaccurate. However, it's still technically true, as my anxiety has me writing faster than I want to. I put things down before thinking them through. Sometimes I even skip over bits I'm not sure about, or get ideas of how to rearrange it later. On my current draft of a story, my scenes are only roughly chronological, and I have to hammer it all out. This is not a good way to write. It's better to be a little too confident than to be too discouraged.

But it's generally okay if you just get it all out and edit later. It helps to kind of "forget" your first feelings towards your draft and go for a more realistic edit.
I have written some stories and it took a before I put anything down because I wanted it to be good. I'd just sit there and look at the screen trying to find the find the right words. This story is gonna be a longer one and I know on a lot of areas, especially where I'm still playing with the ideas, I just write something not worrying about how pretty it is. Otherwise I might not write at all. Looking forward to fixing it later tho. I am skipping things and putting place holders in to continue along which is new for me but I think it will help a lot. I always write in chronological order tho. Idk how ppl can write out of order unless they are avid planners. I couldn't imagine lol I have enough trouble making things coherently while writing chronologically 🤣
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I'm querying my fourth draft right now. My first draft had a completely different beginning, many of the scenes were in a different order, some plot events turned out differently, and the characters have gone through a lot of development. Also...so much line editing on that third draft (I didn't bother with it much before I knew the scenes were set) and so much cutting of extraneous information in certain scenes. Basically, it started as quite the hot mess.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Yes, I'm currently working on a first draft on a quasi-autobiographical piece. I'm putting memories down as I remember them but there are places where I forget stuff and have to backtrack, or don't even mention a fairly major player so will have to work them in later. I've glossed over some parts, failed to mention others, and overdone the detail on yet others.
That's a first draft for you.
 

Digital Dive Labs

Senior Member
How bad are your first drafts?
  • I keep putting off giving my characters names, so they all have absurd, sometimes fitting acronyms like VAPE (Vampiric-🤭 Person, Eccentric) and DOG (Direwoof Once-a-God). If I'm feeling especially unimaginative, I'll give them a lazy portmanteau (man + mentor = Mantor).
  • The prose reads like an instruction manual. "She went here. She did this. Verily, she did the thing after that."
  • To avoid losing my momentum, I'll all-caps summarize unimportant details that I haven't thought up yet. "THEY ARGUE AND IT DOESN'T END WELL FOR HIM." There are a lot of references to a "SPACE BUX" here and a "THE CITY WITH NO NAME" there.
How about a sample? Promise I haven't prettied this up for you:


Horc shivered. The words had an ominous bite that was entirely absent from the visitor’s somber tone. He seemed to notice and glanced away into the night before continuing in a quieter voice. “The dragon of this jungle has her mark on my soul. My magic can hide me for a short while, but to stay, to travel with you, would be to invite danger."
Horc didn't need to hear her name to know of whom he spoke, and perhaps it was better that he didn't. Even in hibernation she exacted her will upon the jungle, and lately her presence could be felt beyond it in the floodplains and swamps and in the fishing waters along the coast.
Mantor sometimes spoke, with equal contempt and reverence, about the last time she was awake. She wasn't cruel, but she ALSO WASN'T NICE. SHE STUFFED HIM IN A LOCKER ONCE. CALLED HIM A DWEEB, EVEN.
Nevertheless, the Great Hunt called for ambition in the face of challenge, and resilience in hardship. One of strong faith could endure, even thrive, under DOG2's mortal gaze.


The result is mostly legible, but I can forget about any awards if something like "under DOG2's mortal gaze" slips through the cracks.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Happens to all of us. But we will get better. Another book I look forward to reading is the creative writing instructor Samuel l Delaney's book on creative writing and to do some planning to increase the quality of the first draft. I like his advice on studying people's reactions and actions around you. That's story material. I see it as potential to create conflicts of different kinds of characters with different personalities. Also when you see the reaction how is it connected to the action? That's paramount to know.
 
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Tettsuo

WF Veterans
The first draft is where the magic is. The rest of the drafts are just attempts to make that magic shine brighter.
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
Love the link, Terry D.

I have written some truly spectacular garbage when I'm throwing together first drafts. The way I see it, writing is hard, editing is easy. You ever watch a movie and think "In half an hour I culd have fixed that script to make the movie way better."? I just write hot garbage and then fix it.

Just remind yourself that no one has to see your shame. When you're done editing, you can burn that first draft in a barrel behind the wood shed and no one will ever know.
 

voltigeur

WF Veterans
The only rule that I have ever read about writing that proves to be true 100% of the time is: Your first draft sucks! Never ever show it to anyone!

Don't be discouraged it is true of all writers at all levels. That's why God invented editing.
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
IMHO, it's an extremely bad idea to expect your first draft to be crap - simply because it puts you in the mindset "I don't need to bother to write well because the first draft will suck anyway". Apart from which, I don't want to think of anything I'm going to write as crap. (Even though there will inevitably be jerks who will call everything I've ever written crap.)

How can you give your best if you think the result will be a failure anyway?
 

voltigeur

WF Veterans
First off i was being tongue in cheek but with a serious point. I f you read my post in the "how do you edit" thread you'd know that I see writing as a process. What I think is even worse is coddling a new writer into believing that they can get out of bed, fart and prose worthy of Tolstoy, Hemingway and Steinbeck will fall out of their ass with no effort.

The point I'm making is that writing is a process. The more excited and inspired you are thee more you will skip words, break sentences and all kinds of crap. This is a function that your brain can move much faster than you can write or type.

I think new writers are better served by setting realistic expectations.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
IMHO, it's an extremely bad idea to expect your first draft to be crap - simply because it puts you in the mindset "I don't need to bother to write well because the first draft will suck anyway". Apart from which, I don't want to think of anything I'm going to write as crap. (Even though there will inevitably be jerks who will call everything I've ever written crap.)

How can you give your best if you think the result will be a failure anyway?
When I say crap, I mean not clean, not polished, not the best it can be, kinda messy. It can be a mash of things, depends on the writers style. A "crappy' first draft doesn't make the piece a failure. The thing i'm trying to tell myself is that a sentence or paragraph doesn't need to be stellar on the first go. With my short stories, I'd sit there and stare because I was trying to think of the best way to write a paragraph/sentence right away. Sometimes beautiful prose is just isn't there in the moment and you just gotta write down something mediocre to get through it. I don't think you should disregard everything when you write. But it being great right away isnt something I should constantly worry about.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
Back in the day when I believed the lie "Just write it and fix it during editing" I wrote a manuscript that needed so much work that I threw it away and just rewrote the damned thing properly. Fixing it would have been like installing a V8 in a Yugo.

These days I take great pains to write it properly the first time. I mean, if you were building a car, you wouldn't say "Just build it and we can fix it during production."
Nope. You build it right, then you won;t have to shoehorn in that V8 later.


And don;t even get me started about all of the books I have started, then abandoned. Nothing like writing a couple hundred pages and discovering that the story really didn;t sizzle like you thought it would. I have many, many story ideas, but only a limited amount of time to write them. Ergo, I try to write the best story and discard the ones that are meh.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
Back in the day when I believed the lie "Just write it and fix it during editing" I wrote a manuscript that needed so much work that I threw it away and just rewrote the damned thing properly. Fixing it would have been like installing a V8 in a Yugo.

These days I take great pains to write it properly the first time. I mean, if you were building a car, you wouldn't say "Just build it and we can fix it during production."
Nope. You build it right, then you won;t have to shoehorn in that V8 later.


And don;t even get me started about all of the books I have started, then abandoned. Nothing like writing a couple hundred pages and discovering that the story really didn;t sizzle like you thought it would. I have many, many story ideas, but only a limited amount of time to write them. Ergo, I try to write the best story and discard the ones that are meh.
I feel that. I made a dumpster fire earlier this year that I didn't complete because the whole thing went everywhere...I'm trying to be careful not to do that again because editing couldn't save it. I am working on pacing and scene structure so I'd like to get this one to a good stopping point before i'm like meh and drop it. Not sure how I wanna go about it though
 

Newman

Senior Member
Currently I am drafting some trash. I am getting out of the 'perfectionist mentality that often makes me too scared to write at times. When I first got back into writing I didn't like the idea of my first daft being trash or at least not great. I also didn't like the idea of editing a lot...over time I got my head out of my rear and realized that's part of writing. Writing is rewriting. I am drafting and highlighting things I want to reword/don't know if it works/ want to go into more detail etc. I will write a few paragraphs just to get a general idea there but man...there is no pretty writing in those paragraphs. 😆 I plan to go back in and do line edits, rejigging the sentence to make it less bleh...
I hate looking at something knowing it sucks but I gotta do what I gotta do to get stuff done I suppose. I try to think of writing in terms of drawing, this draft is like a rough sketch...some places are more detailed while others have the basic shape. But it will all come together at the end (I hope) I'm still learning my style and writing process...
How bad are your first drafts? Some do more revisions than others depending on style etc. Curious to hear what your drafting process is like :)
Writing is rewriting. First draft certainly, usually, are far from perfect.
 
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