A First Draft is a First Draft, After All by Diana Flegal

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A First Draft is a First Draft, After All by Diana Flegal

Every story has its beginning, and it’s often a sloppy one.

I am a fan of the “literary” writing style.

Distinctions of this style might be the use of heavy description, a deep character point of view, and beautifully crafted word pictures I can smell, see, and sometimes hear.

Though when an unpublished writer informs me they are a literary writer, inside I groan. All too often this presents itself in wordy unedited material containing adjectives in abundance.

Every word should serve a purpose; help place the reader into the story’s context, and make the reader feel, or see something the character is experiencing.

Mauve Binchy, Jane Kirkpatrick, and Anthony Doerr are good examples of masterful literary writing. Yet, I would guess, their first drafts look nothing like the finished book we will hold in our hands.

Whether a literary writer or not, your first draft will most likely contain an abundance of ‘ly’ words and overwrought descriptive sentences. The very ‘weed words’ my colleague Cyle Young spoke about a few blogs ago. The purpose of a first draft is to get the story down, and learn what makes your characters tick. Is the grossly flawed man/woman capable of becoming a hero/heroine? Can the shy one overcome and seek out the beauty?

Once the first draft of your story is written, you can do a read through and see what works and what doesn’t. Look for the places where your story slows down and fix the pacing. You might discover on a re-read that Joe really wouldn’t have responded to Kate in that manner at all. Maybe a scene could be stronger, funnier, or left out entirely without any loss to the story line.

Drafts are a necessary part of the process. Do not be afraid to rewrite the story until you get it right. And then; be willing to be edited, or as Stephen King says in his book, Stephen King on Writing, kill your little darlings.



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