On Writing First Drafts: Don’t be Afraid of the Bad (And Some Announcements)

Hey everyone! We’re getting the blog back in order, and we’ve got a few things coming up that I need to cover really quick before getting to the meat of this post.

First off – new blog theme! Isn’t it puuuuuurty? Let us know if you have any issues with readability.

Second – the RRFS is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April. Because of that, while we’re getting this thing back up and active over February and March, we’re going to be a bit slow. We’ll be posting every two weeks until April. If you’re looking for a way to get some good exposure for your own blog and meet a lot of different people, you should try out the A-Z Challenge. Just go visit their site for all the information!

Now, on to the real post!

On Writing First Drafts: Don’t be Afraid of the Bad

Photo by Greg Turner

Photo by Greg Turner

My novel, Catalyst, happened so quickly it was surreal.

I conceived the idea for this novel back in February 2012. By the end of that same year, I had a complete first draft. By the end of May 2013, I had not only edited that first draft SIX TIMES, I had also:

  • Entered it in two contests – the first of which I was the 3rd place finalist, and the second of which I WON.
  • Pitched it to two agents, and queried it to two more. I had one full request that turned into a “please revise and re-submit”, and two rejections, and no response from one agent.

There’s still more rewriting to do.

Not because it’s bad anymore, but because it just needs a little more “oomph”, and I think I know how to get it there now.

Catalyst isn’t bad anymore, but the first draft was a doozy.

When you get a first draft down, sometimes you write so hard and so fast that your brain rebels. It’s akin to running a race, but if you haven’t properly ‘stretched’ (IE: you haven’t written for a while, or haven’t figured out all your characters and their motivations) things might be interesting, because this is like exercise – the more you do it, the better you are at it.

So why do I say “Don’t be afraid of the bad”?

Because when you go back and edit, you’re going to find some gems.

Like these:

Taphim would do anything to have the chance to turn back time and pull Sachi away out of this terrible city, the entire country, when he found her in that dark alley . If only he could die in her stead, but Zanis had made sure he couldn’t do so. And now, now all Taphim had to fight for was Zareja.

And he still needed to talk to her, but he was all too rapidly being herded out the door to make it to the judicial chambers on time. It was with a reluctant glance back to his wife that he realized she wasn’t wearing white socks, either.

(For that first quote, here’s some info: This is a high fantasy novel. And Taphim’s wife isn’t even in the room in that scene.)

“The sky is still dark, but it is completely dark on both the eastern and western horizons. It is the dark before the dawn, so they still have a bit of time.”

You’ve probably figured out it was dark, eh?

Sometimes, the bad is so worth it. Just for the laugh.


7 thoughts on “On Writing First Drafts: Don’t be Afraid of the Bad (And Some Announcements)

    • I’ve got a couple of NaNo projects that I think I pretty much need to start over from scratch on (2009 and 2010). I was still earning a lot about my writing process when I did those, and while they have good moments in them, the plot is just shambled.

  1. Thank you for posting two of my favorite ‘mishaps’ in early Catalyst drafts. It’s true not to be afraid of the bad, and honestly, sometimes the bad will make you grin ear-to-ear later!

  2. Ah, the memories of the first draft. It took me six to get to the stage where I am now (and four years in the making). And, I also only got it back a few days ago from my editor, so busy going through those pesky edits at the moment.
    Love the theme choice, I’m test driving it myself (seems a popular choice!). Hope to see you on the A to Z journey.

    Warmest wishes,

    • It usually takes me much longer to get through six drafts, but I had some extra motivation that year. Though I seem to be making it up with the time I’m taking on the seventh draft. Oh well! Good luck with your edits!

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