Sunday, July 6, 2008

slash and burn

Hello rainbow and glitter people--let me ask you a question: is your second draft the same story as your first draft but told differently, or a different story with more or less the same plot and characters, or your just your first draft improved?

I am involved in some serious slash and burn here and it's freaking me out. In the meantime my son is playing with his Indiana Jones action figure, which for some reason involves singing Waltzing Matilda at the top of his lungs in falsetto. I feel like this is making me indecisive, but probably I could be indecisive even without help.


Laura Bradley Rede said...

Good question, Sarah. For better or worse, my short stories don't seem to change TOO much from first draft to second. I try to make the writing improve, but the plot and the basic characters don't change very much. The novel, however, may turn out to be a totally different animal. I agree that slash and burn feels risky, especially when done to the tune of Australian folk music :), but I think it can be healthy-- you know, like how forest fires are necessary for woodland ecosystems? Hang in there...

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is your foreign correspondent here. The answer to your question is YES. Sometimes my second draft is a cleaned-up version of the first scribblings. Sometimes I change it from 1st person to 2nd, sometimes I rewrite the POV, and sometimes I throw it all out and change everything but the original concept. Sometimes you need to worry it like a dog with a bone and then bury it in the backyard for awhile, see what grows out of it. Don't feel guilty for tearing it all up and starting over. Just don't let it go.


Nola J Moore said...

I agree with Tessa (Hi Tessa! Nice to "see" you!) - it all depends on the story. Where it started, how developed it was when I finally wrote it down, how much time I spent on the draft, etc.

That being said, I find that I'm fairly true to the big things - plot, themes, setting, characters from first draft to finish. It's rare that you can't see a pretty logical progression from one draft to the next. My first drafts are pretty messy (just getting down what happens and to whom), and subsequent drafts are more logical (if this happens in chapter 8, I need to set it up back in 6; there will be more tension here if I move the fight scene back a few pages; is this character really thinking that?)

I will say, though, that the majority of my stories have been wandering about in my head for awhile before they get into draft stage. I may write some here and there, make some notes, etc, but rarely is the first draft really first. Which tends to give me much cleaner drafts then those who just sit down and write things to see what will happen.

But slash away, if that's where you're at. Just don't forget to keep a copy of that original draft . . . :)

Jason Sollom said...

Although somewhat off-handed, Nola's comment about keeping the original draft is important. Sometimes your changes aren't improvements, and it's better for the story if you can go back a revision or two and take what you had written there.