Attachment to your first draft?

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marccolbourne
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Attachment to your first draft?

Post by marccolbourne » January 30th, 2010, 11:11 am

Hello there,

I am wondering if anyone has the same challenge that I am facing right now...

I have embraced the idea of writing a 'shitty first draft'...just getting something down on paper (or on the screen) so that the book moves along and I can come back to revise. I am in the revision stage now and have no problems with changing some of the sentence structure, fixing typos and altering my word choices. What I can't seem to do is find and delete the parts of the narrative that don't work as well. I think I am too attached to what I have written. I spend time trying to make some things better that perhaps should just be re-written totally or removed altogether.

Do you have the same problem? Too attached to the words that you have written during your "shitty first draft"? How do you get through it and just cut cut cut?

Revision is difficult for me at the best of times so any ideas you might have to make the process easier will be gratefully received.

Thanks and happy writing (and less painful revision!)
Marc

Yoshima
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by Yoshima » January 30th, 2010, 11:48 am

I had that same problem a few months ago. I was pretty darn set on having a few events in the story stay the same from first to second draft because I loved certain phrases and couldn't stand parting with them. Then I decided it was time to have someone critique my work. I don't know about anyone else, but when it's just me and my keyboard I don't look at my work the same way I do when I think about others' perspectives. It isn't until I realize that someone will actually be reading it, and possibly ripping both it and my ego apart, that I start to really knuckle down and change anything I have even the slightest inkling needs to be changed. I think having the pressure of someone else critiquing you will help you get over this little bump, since you seem to know deep down which things need to be reworked. It helped me a ton. I can't even look at my first draft without feeling silly for thinking it was good.

Good luck with your revisions!

tameson
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by tameson » January 30th, 2010, 12:18 pm

Reading through my first draft, I will mark specific lines that I think are worth keeping. That might only be like 3-4 lines in a chapter though. I then rewrite the chapter, without looking at my first draft. And then I look at those lines I liked before and think if there is any way that they would fit well in what I have written. If not I let them go. But rewriting without looking at the first draft is a good way to lose the attachment. I just do short scenes at a time, so the story doesn't change that much. The second draft still gets the advantage of having been written before, because it is still in my head and I know my goals and I have a better feel for the characters and dialogue then I did the first time.

bgannon
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by bgannon » January 30th, 2010, 12:47 pm

Having someone else critique your work really helps put things in perspective. I had a handful of strangers pick apart three chapters of my manuscript in a workshop and it was really enlightening. In addition to them all agreeing on certain parts that didn't work, they identified broader problems that needed addressing. Highly recommended. I felt a sentimental attachment to the first draft, too, but it's not going anywhere. The first draft is sitting on my hardrive (and in a dogeared notebook) for posterity. Now that I've made progress on the infinitely more readable and exciting second draft, the attachment to the first is much weaker.

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taylormillgirl
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by taylormillgirl » January 30th, 2010, 1:15 pm

I don't have a sentimental attachment to my first draft, but a problem I do have is that I've read my work ELEVENTY BILLION times. I could probably recite my whole manuscript from memory. So when I do make big changes, they sound foreign to my ears.
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Krista G.
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by Krista G. » January 30th, 2010, 1:39 pm

taylormillgirl wrote:I don't have a sentimental attachment to my first draft, but a problem I do have is that I've read my work ELEVENTY BILLION times. I could probably recite my whole manuscript from memory. So when I do make big changes, they sound foreign to my ears.
Ditto, ditto, DITTO, taylormillgirl!

And marccolbourne, I know exactly what you mean - that writer skill, being able to ditch whole passages, is one I'm still developing. I'm really trying with my current WIP, though. For instance, I'm already planning to go back and rewrite an entire chapter from my second POV character's perspective just to see if that point of view would be the more interesting one for the scene. Part of that being-able-to-ditch-whole-passages skill might be experimentation, then - writing just to see where the words take you, and then being willing to try some other words on for size if those ones don't work out.
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
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casnow
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by casnow » January 30th, 2010, 3:03 pm

I have that problem as well... you blaze through a draft, and then you go through and read it, you fix all the typos, change he awkward wording, etc., and you have a perfectly grammatically correct manuscript - however, you're missing something to make it pop and you have scenes that don't really contribute. What I've tried to do is tell myself that I'm going to kill a certain number of words.

On my first draft of last work I wrote 85k words... I got it down to 82k after eliminating extra words, changing passive voice, etc. Then I decided to really go through and scrub the thing. I told myself I wouldn't stop cutting until I got down to 75k words. And when I did that I found myself at first struggling, but then I found myself actively cutting out scenes that didn't move the story... when I finished I was down to 70k words.

You just have to tell yourself that the keyboard giveth and the delete button taketh away - it's a part of the ebb and flow of writing.

Nick
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by Nick » January 30th, 2010, 3:19 pm

I copypasta my first draft. Save the orig and do my edits on a facsimile in another doc. That way when I feel like being all shit-loving I can go and read through my orig. Plus, that way I have my orig handy, so if I change something and later decide I don't like the way my change works, I can go back and see if I prefer the original, or if I'm going to come up with something fresh. It's more than just an aversion to wanting to delete, too. I might need to add moments, and I just don't want to. To my mind, my first draft is perfect. And really it always will be the perfect draft so far as I am concerned. But it is also perfect to ME. The person who wrote it all the first place. The person who can prattle off every last detail of every major character's biography, including pieces that aren't mentioned in the work because they are not vital to the narrative itself, but they are vital to the character. The person who knows exactly what the city looks like from every conceivable angle in any universe, and knows what is changing where in its ever-evolving face. I do my best to convey what's vital about everything to the readers, but at the end of the day I still know more, because I created it. I can give the reader a road map of the city, but they will never be able to view it through the eyes of a god like I can. I can give them insight into my characters, but they will never know the characters so well as to be able to step into each of their lives at a moment's notice. So I can fill in the gaps. Something missing or something that doesn't work from a reader's point of view on that first draft, will for me. But I understand a reader won't necessarily. So I double up. Still have the first draft of past stories saved in a box in my room, because I love them.

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Holly
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by Holly » January 30th, 2010, 5:26 pm

marccolbourne wrote:Do you have the same problem? Too attached to the words that you have written during your "shitty first draft"? How do you get through it and just cut cut cut?
Easy. Do a SAVE AS, save the damn thing under another name (Novel Two, for example), and slice the heck out of it.

Those early versions are good in case you botch something and realize you got it right the first time. Plus when you finish, they'll be there for laughs or the cringe factor.

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CharleeVale
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by CharleeVale » January 30th, 2010, 6:18 pm

I had that problem for a while, then I took some time off from the manuscript. I got busy and didn't even really look at it for awhile. Then I came back and looked at it again, and realized that if I wanted to make it stronger serious things had to happen, so I take a 'snapshot' (I use scrivener) so I don't lose it permanently in case I want to go back to it, and then I cut and rearrange away! So far my manuscript has gotten SOOO much better.

CV

Bron
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by Bron » January 31st, 2010, 6:17 am

CharleeVale is right. You need distance. I try to leave my manuscripts for two months between drafts. That way the work isn't as embedded in my head and I can look at it with something approaching fresh eyes. I also print out my drafts and edit on paper. I hate using pen and paper, but I find if I edit on screen I just end up line editing, instead of looking at passages as a whole. You need to ask yourself, Does this scene advance the story? I'm editing at the moment and just cut a few scenes for this reason. I really like them, I thought I had nailed the voice and that they were full of tension... but ultimately they focused on a secondary character and didn't advance the plot. So as of this afternoon, they're gone.

Of course this is all easier said than done. This is my second round of edits so obviously I didn't pick these passages up in the first round :-)

marccolbourne
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Re: Attachment to your first draft?

Post by marccolbourne » January 31st, 2010, 11:37 am

Thank you so much everyone!

There is some great advice here. Now I just need to take it and use it as I continue to revise.

Marc

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