Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 8 Stages of Drafting

So, I was thinking today about the ups and downs of writing and hashing out that first big bloppy mess of a draft. And this is pretty much how it goes for me. Writing a novel is like dealing with grief; there are stages.

With grieving the stages are: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance (YES, that psychology degree really DOES pay off sometimes!)

With writing, it's a bit more complicated.

Stage One, Pure Bliss: OMG this is the best book ever! Once I finish this bad boy, I'll be a millionaire! I'll be bigger than Steven King AND Stephanie Meyer! They will make movies not just about my books but about ME! I might even have my own E! True Hollywood Story!

Stage Two, Pure Bliss on the Rocks: Whew. This middle is getting a little sticky. Maybe I should go back and change that one thing that I did in the beginning. Or that one character trait. Maybe if my MC was blind/stronger/had ESP/could see dead people/fell in love with a goat who wanted to suck her blood, it would be better.

Stage Three In Which I Attempt To Stifle the Inner Editor And Not Go Back And Change Crap and I FAIL: Okay, I changed that one thing and checked for continuity for no apparent reason since this is a first draft. Wait, was that a bad decision? Maybe I should change it back. Did I save that other draft? I know I shouldn't go back and change things while drafting, but it was such a good idea and I just KNEW it would make the whole thing better in no time at all! Except three weeks have passed.

Stage Four, Resistance: I'm the worst writer ever. What am I doing? I can't even spell! I use too many commas! This idea is AWFUL! No one will ever want to read it! I don't even want to write it! What was my log line again? Do I have a character arc? What about theme, DON'T I NEED A THEME?!

Stage Five, When I Think About Cheating: Dude, I just had this GREAT idea for a book! So, it has NOTHING to do with my current book, but that one can wait, right? RIGHT?! It's not even that good!

Stage Six, Hope Resurfaces: I made it to the scene where my MC gets to make out with her love interest/there's a dragon/she's super funny/everything is going like I planned YES! This is BRILLIANT! I AM AN EVIL GENIUS!

Stage Seven, Repeat Stages Four Through Six. At Least Ten Times.

Stage Eight, Philosophical Rationalization: I know this writing stuff is hard, but it's okay. It's all apart of my learning/writing journey. I am one with my novel and it is one with me. We will go through this experience and emerge stronger on the other side.

Or not. :-)

15 comments:

  1. LOL. Mare, this is bleedin' brilliant. Oh, and the goat blood-sucking hero?? Finish that book so I can read it, yo!

    Stage seven is the suckiest of sucks, yet we all have to face it. I truly hope you're on eight now. It's a nice reprieve before the edits start and you get to step eight and three quarters.

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  2. I'm glad to see I'm only one who goes from the highs of 'This is fantastic!' to 'The only thing that separates this from a story written by a five year old is the absence of crayon'. I feel a lot more normal now!

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  3. Oh, I'm so so so trying to be one with my novel at this point! Love the psychological analysis. How much do I owe you, Dr. Wolf?

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  4. ROF!!! I LOVED this! Thanks for sharing, and giving me something to show my wife and say, "See? It's perfectly ok if I'm a little weird."

    Great post, Mary.

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  5. You brought in GOATS. This makes me think of a blog challenge I may have to cook up.
    I am a total classic for "Stage Five, When I Think About Cheating." I don't just think about, I do. I am relentlessly naughty.
    Awesome post, Mary.

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  6. Hello my darling Anita! I'm getting there :-/ I can't wait to be done with my rough draft. This ending is making me crazy! I need to stop trying for perfect and just go with good (for now!) I hope your writing is going smoothly :)

    Hey Christine! I love your analogy! 'The only thing that separates this from a story written by a five year old is the absence of crayon' You are awesome!

    Hello my lovely Mary! Am I Dr. Wolf, or Dr. Wulf? Maybe both, the Jekyll and Hyde version ;)

    Hey Bryce, glad you liked it! I always have a moment of panic after I post something (did that even make sense?!) and good for you for bringing the spouse in the loop. I try to hide my neuroses from my husband (I don't do a very good job) :)

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  7. Jenny Phresh face! I eagerly await your goat-ly blog challenge.

    Hey Naomi! Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed my little slice of crazy :)

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  8. You are VERY AWESOME, did I already tell you that? And a GOAT VAMPIRE?!?!

    I worship at thy feet.

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  9. HAHAHAHA, blood sucking goat lovers!!!! Awesomeness.

    This here is why I love writing my draft in a ridiculously fast haze. I know it's gonna suck from day one, and I just enjoy the rush. Then, three weeks later, I let reality set in. My editing process is even scarier than your drafting process!!! LOL.

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  10. Forgive me, great Goat Herder, it has been two hours since I last violated stage 1, 2, 4 and 8. On two separate manuscripts no less.

    It's a scary, scary place inside a writer's brain.

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  11. Cherie - YOU are awesome, no REALLY! (And pretty!)

    Michelle - I am working on getting to that whole "write 50,000 words in two weeks" thing. It's gonna be awhile, I think. :)

    Rookie - Your penance is two outlines, a synopsis, and a new blog post. And my the muse have mercy on your writerly soul!

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  12. THAT WAS SOOOO FUNNY!
    It's funny because it's true!

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  13. Just finished a revision. Can so relate to this. Staring on a new WIP, I find purely creating a challenge after all that time revisioning.

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  14. I...go through each of these about once a day. You are awesome for posting this.

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