Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Secret Draft: Getting the clay on the wheel before you write


One thing that has resulted in so many first novels languishing in desk drawers is the false belief that you've got to get it right the first time. 

Not true. Published authors know that anything can be repaired and improved in the rewrite, so we just go ahead and write a “Secret Draft” with all the mistakes, goofs, and wrong roads that occur.

We know we can write as badly as we want to now because we can fix it later.
Full-time authors usually blast through Chapter One without giving much concern to its quality. We know how difficult beginning a manuscript can be, and rather than wasting time and energy on trying to make the first chapter perfect, we continue writing until we reach the end.

You can do the same; blast through your first (secret) draft and fix things later.

Here are five advantages of writing a secret draft:

1. thinking that “it’s only a secret draft” makes it easier to get started. Knowing that the secret draft is a raw and unfinished product that needs work frees you up to write creatively, not like a really strict copy editor. Think of a figure skater warming up. You can’t be expected to win a Gold medal the moment you get off the bus. The secret draft is the warm-up; revision is your “medal round.”

2. A secret draft is also a terrific way to figure out what it is you are actually writing. Once the secret draft is finished, you have the entire story in front of you. There, in your secret draft, is the clay ready to be formed into something which looks like a novel.

3. A finished secret draft lets you see the entire story from beginning to end; how it starts and how it ends. Because you finally know how the story ends, it’s possible to go back to the beginning and make everything point toward that inevitable ending.

My second novel, Extreme Close-Up, is an example of the advantage of foresight and hindsight you can gain by writing a secret draft. I was two-thirds of the way through writing my secret draft before I discovered who had really killed the actress who dies earlier in the book. Once I knew how the book had to end, I was able to go back and rewrite and revise earlier scenes so that the ending (once the reader knew it) seemed inevitable. If I had perfected the book sentence by sentence the first time through, I’d have wasted a lot of work.

4. A secret draft can be like your first love; vivid and passionate. Enjoy all the pleasure and excitement that comes with invention and creation by writing a secret draft without editing yourself. After all, you’re at the beginning of a long road leading from your idea to finished novel.

This is the perfect time to overwrite, the place to be too romantic, too cute, or too melodramatic. You can always fix it later. There will be some inspired moments when you write scenes that seem to leap directly from your unconscious mind to the page. That’s when you will fall in love with writing fiction.
5. Secret drafts are the place for experiments and adventures and easily forgiven misses. This is, after all, just a secret draft you’re working on. A secret draft gives you the chance to write some “wrong stuff" while you discover the “right stuff.” The stuff that works. Because I know I am writing a secret draft, I allow myself to write some “wrong” stuff before “What Works” appears before my eyes.

Above from the blog NOVEL SECRETS:

Lary Crews