One of the most confusing aspects (well at least to me when I first started to write) was the drafts system. Sure I heard teachers bark to me about leaving my final draft clean and beautiful. Ernest Hemingway said, “All first drafts are shit” He is right. Sure you can find some amazing gems through your file cabinets of all writings, but the primary function of the draft is to get the story down.
Once the story has been penned (or typed) it may be amazing or it may be as Ernest Hemingway politely said, “shit”. You may call your characters by shorthand references like brother or boss. Your second draft may contain the goodies of personalization, like character names, backgrounds and subplots littered throughout. The way I write I like to brainstorm prior to drafting and as I pen the first draft I work on making the plot riveting and coherent. Characters, though vastly important may come in the brainstorming stage or can develop as I draft along. Many times have I done a second draft with a completely different cast of characters.
It is up to you what you feel is important or not in your primary writing stages. When the first draft is finished I like rewrite it and then edit and rewrite again. This process assures me that I have captured the characters in their proper glory, and have ample time to connect my plots and other sidestories so that the reader may properly engage himself (or herself) into the story.
Editing is a completely different beast to tame that I will go over in my next post, but here is one of my favorite teacher’s quotes: “If your draft doesn’t look like an Iraqi battlefield when you’re done ripping it apart, than you haven’t done it right”. Tough advise on an eight grader but it stuck.
How do you guys feel about drafting? Do you devise the chracters or the plot first? I’d be interesting in hearing your ideas and methods!