The Pain of the First Draft.
I’m three-quarters of a way through the first draft of my third novel in my crime series and I’m feeling the pain. I’m suffering with moments of doubt in my ability to write, worries about a flat-lining plot and giving birth to cardboard characters. The pain is crippling at times.
But i have to believe in the process of writing a novel. i have to remember that there will be numerous drafts before the publisher even gets a whiff of the story. Each draft will be an improvement on the last although still in need of work before i work on it with an editor. I should have, ‘this is only the first draft’ tattooed on the inside of my left wrist. Now there’s thought…
In this first draft, i need to connect the threads that make up the plot line; weaving my thoughts into a web that will eventually tell the story from my imagination. i may have characters in this draft that don’t make it to subsequent drafts, but that’s okay, they may appear in future novels, or just die…
i try and make each chapter start with a bang and end the chapter with the reader wanting to know what happens next. If I’m struggling to find my way, I write in bold, capital letters something like, ‘NEED MORE ON EVA AND ALEX HERE.
I must remember that the actual role of the first draft is to map out the story I wish to tell. Subsequent drafts are where i concentrate on vocabulary, structure, tension, plot twists, the arc and in-depth characterisations.
It’s one thing saying all of this, and another thing to remember it whist in the process of carving out a new novel. it’s so easy to read a novel by Ian Rankin, for example, and believe that the book as it is now came straight t the page in one swift movement. of course this isn’t so.
I take great strength from Katie Fforde’s acknowledgement in her novel ‘The Rose Revived’ where she states, ‘…and especially to my editor, Richena Todd, who took my horrid, furry-edged manuscript and, cheerfully and uncomplainingly, turned t into a book. (Arrow Books, 1995).
Happy Word Flow One & All.