Troy Kirby

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Lies Beneath


The first draft for me appears as a betrayal by the second or third draft.

At least in portions of it, mainly because things change. Everything within the story is organic, it grows or dies as it progresses. And the first thing to go in the first draft are some of the story components that I felt were completely awesome when I had the idea in my head.

By draft three, a lot of those components have been altered in a way. Some of it looks so different that I feel as if it’s a Hollywood starlet getting her third round of plastic surgery.

This comes from several factors

A. I never know everything little twist and turn in a story from page 1 to page 300 in a first draft.

B. I like the first draft sit a while. It starts to churn with new ideas that come in my head, things people have said to me in different conversations, etc.

C. Sometimes a new idea overtakes an old one.

This is how I operate. And no matter how often I believe that I am going to write an awesome first draft, by draft three, I look back at the first draft and know how bad it really was. But that is why we redraft things, revisions, rewrite. Because if we all believed that the first draft was king, there would be nothing to rebuild at all.

I am starting a new novel. Got the notes down over the last year, waited to finish a few projects, then went back to it. The amount of notes were about five word documents, one of them that lasted fifty-two pages. All different ideas, scenes, characters. Thoughts on theme, language and setting.

And you know what?

I still penciled out a good 26 chapter outline that shrunk all of those notes down.

Then, I started writing the first chapter. Easy as can be, right? Except that things don’t often appear as far away as they do in the mirror (because it reality, they are closer than they appear).

That was what got me started thinking about how I feel in the second or third draft. All of the effort to change things, to improve them.

Sometimes this doesn’t happen.

Just look at the reviews for "Crunk" - Some people liked it (5 of the reviews are at 3 stars). Others thought it was worthless (one lady gave it 1 star & wrote "It makes me wonder whether this author has personal experience with these actions somehow"). NOTE: I've never been arrested, nor am I criminally insane. That's why it's called "fiction" - FYI.

Even though I can suggest to you that I don’t look at those things, I do. Reviews of your work tend to gloss over how hard you've worked (or how long) on each sentence, plot or story. That's why everything in terms of writing is very internal. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got (talent, story, characters, taste) is all you can hope for.

Especially after the third or fourth draft where you’ve really started to ensure that everything adds up. For some people, it’s not going to. They are predisposed not to enjoy something. It fits in their demeanor or character.

And the worst thing you can do as a writer is stop at the first draft. Because this “sounds” more like what the reader wants to read. That’s the thing about the reader, they are waiting for you to surprise them. Despite what they say or ask for, in the end, they wish to have a surprise.

That’s why the third or fourth draft, despite the feeling of betraying the original draft and concept, is actually a good move for any writer. It means that you are treating it as an organic piece of work.

And aside from that, what else can you hope for?

SIDE NOTE: I will be changing this site in the coming weeks. It will be in connection with my latest novel release and the ability to have a more fluid system for my blog, etc. Things are a changing for the better. I just hired a graphic designer to take over the covers for my novels and plan to release 2-3 novels in the next couple of months. That’s why I’ve been out of touch lately, writing takes charge of your life sometimes and all you can do is hold the reigns and keep from falling off into oblivion.

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