Sunday, November 6, 2011

First drafts and self editing

I'm currently writing the first draft of my WIP, happy to have breached the 40000 word mark (got to 41798). The most surprising thing is that my initial estimate of the novels' length being about 75k words looks like it's going to be rounded down to something closer to the 60k mark. That may be a good thing, and I have some self-editing during the first draft to thank for it...

Most folk would tell you to get your first draft down on paper and worry about the fine tuning later. I'm not a 'pantser': I prefer to have an outline in place beforehand to help me along as I write it. When I'd come up with the outline it all felt really good, and the structure essentially sound. But now I've got down to the nitty gritty of writing some problems emerged.

A few days ago I realised that one of the peripheral characters was actually unnecessary. So I went back through the MS and deleted all scenes/mentions of her. If I didn't decide to self-edit she would still be there. I could've waited till my first draft was done before getting rid of her, but now I can write the rest of my first draft without worrying about bringing her in to the action. And that's a huge weight off my shoulders.

And today, while working through part three (of four) I realised that, looking ahead to the next couple of chapters in my plan, the pace had slowed right down. Again, I could have written on anyway and cut out the waffle later. But why wait? I knew then and there that it would be too slow if I carried on this way, so before writing a word of those planned chapters (which as a plan seemed on the money) I shuffled stuff around in my plan to pick the pace up. And now I can look confidently ahead to those next chapters knowing that the pace is picking up again...

Lesson learned? There's nothing wrong with self-editing your first draft. It'll save you deleting work later. Just ensure you don't permanently delete what you dispose of. You never know when it'll come in handy...

1 comment:

  1. Agreed, and especially if you have a plan. Working to plan means you already know where your story is going, whereas if you don't and you start self-editing, you can get caught in the editing loop of hell.

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