View Full Version : WIP Drafts - what do they mean to you?

Cathy C
02-18-2006, 10:11 PM
On break today (I take weekends off, since I write M-F.) pdr and Irysangel brought up an interesting topic over on the Harlequin critique thread, and I think it might be worth exploring further.

What do YOU consider to be a first draft? What should it contain? See, I write in final form from the outset, but my co-author writes her books in multiple drafts. We work at about the same speed overall, but the process is quite different. Here's what I've noticed her first drafts contain:

1. Full plot
2. Fully drawn lead characters
3. All subplots
4. Final dialogue.
5. Large movements (walking, running, etc.)

But they're bare bones stuff. There will be long stretches of "talking heads" or bare dialogue with no movement, descriptions, etc.

Now, the second draft expands the word count and smoothes the edges. This adds:

1. Small movements (body language)
2. Description of surrounding scenery (visual)
3. Expansion of back story (where necessary)
4. Expansion of subcharacters

Subsequent drafts tweak wording and add:

1. Sensory detail (smells, sounds)
2. Fine detail.

At what point should a book be given to a beta reader or critique partner/group? How does it work for you? :)

02-18-2006, 11:32 PM
I admit that I write like your partner, layering and tweaking in subsequent drafts.

I have another question: Do you write your story "in the order it will finally appear" or do you write scenes "as they come to you".

Personally I can't do the "as they come to you" method, but I have friends (published novelists) who swear by it.

02-18-2006, 11:36 PM
I write with the idea that it's the final thing, then do passes in the hope of removing the suck and adding all the stuff I can't believe I missed.

Cathy C
02-18-2006, 11:43 PM
I write the book in the order it happens, in the form the end reader sees it. One pass, and I'm done. But it's slower than the draft method. I couldn't do a Nano, for example, because I can't write a 50K book. I can only write a 100K book if that's what it's supposed to be. While I CAN write 100K in a month, it's a hard month. Now, occasionally while I'm writing chapter five, I'll think of something that should have appeared in chapter one and go back to add it. But I don't really think of that as a "draft."

02-19-2006, 02:15 AM
Cathy, I think I write more like you. My first drafts are pretty well-rounded because I try to add all the bits as I go. I could never do NANO either - I can't just blurt stuff out and fix it later. I want to fix it as soon as it's on the page!

02-19-2006, 02:17 AM
I write much like you, Cathy. I do it all in one fell swoop and then like Richard, I go back after a couple weeks (when it's not as fresh) and clean up the suckage...a few times. ;) I've heard a lot of people plot, plan and write their stories in portions, but I can't do that. I want my cake and I want it NOW. lol

02-19-2006, 05:01 AM
My first draft if as perfect as I can make it. It includes everything that I want--every line if dialogue, every scene, and as much detail as possible. I send that draft to one beta to get their general reaction to the overall story. The second draft is where I will kill all the adverbs, remove the passive voice, stop abusing conjunctions, and check typical grammar problems. I rarely add more, though if my betas indicate a scene is missing something or they'd like to see more of Character X doing something, then I might consider fleshing out or rewriting a scene. But the second draft is mostly for trimming words and rewriting sentences, not for adding more content.

After that, I give it one more read through, looking for any stupid mistakes or continuity errors and call it good.

02-19-2006, 03:53 PM
My first draft is the entire book, nothing left out. But while I am writing it I know that it is the first drasft. I always find things I want to change when I read it over. Not that I will rewrite the whole thing, but chapters will be changed and scenes will be omitted or added.

02-19-2006, 08:58 PM
I guess I'm the opposite of everyone else. :)

I puke everything out on the page as fast as possible -- I don't care if the names are wrong, the tense is wrong, if I don't know what the proper name is for the underwear of a 17th century commoner is...it's all going to go on the page. Word repetition, misspellings, everything. I just want to get it out of my HEAD because if I don't, I'm worried it'll disappear.

After I've finished the first draft, I print it out and begin making changes. To me, the second draft is for cleaning up all the obvious stuff (grammar, word rep), the pieces I messed up during the first round (the vampire should have only been out at night through the first half of the book, etc) and fleshing out a few more scenes. I also do a paper edit and go through line by line and rewrite sentences I think are clunky sounding.

Once all that's done, *then* I send mine out to beta-readers.

It's probably not the most streamlined process and I'm probably doing twice the work, but it's what works for me. If I try and make it perfect during the first draft, I get so frustrated that I can't go any further. If I feel like I'm making progress (no matter how lame the progress is) then I can continue on at a good clip.

But I never, NEVER show anyone my first drafts. They're just embarassing. :)

02-20-2006, 12:41 AM
LOL @ Irysangel. I love the way you worded your process. :) You know, it does sound like extra work, but like you said, it's what works for you and that is the key.

I have 2 Beta readers that read my chapters as I write them. Most people suggest not using family....heh, those people have never met Mama Sonarbabe. My mother is an avid romance reader. She knows what she wants from a romance and she won't hesitate to tell me what's not working for her. The plus side to it being my mother is, of course, she's not cruel in her critique. If it doesn't work she'll say, "Uh, honey? I don't think it's plausible for your 100 lbs librarian heroine to body slam Hulk Hogan naked in the middle of Macy's." That sort of thing. My other reader has been my best friend since I was Baby Sonarbabe. She, too, devours romance books, but she is the one who will say, "Darlin', were you smoking crack again while writing? What did we decide about that?" That's how it works for me, anyway.

(Explains so much, doesn't it??) ;)

02-20-2006, 06:59 AM
Oooo...see, I can't do that. The few times I showed someone my work-in-progress, I got so beat down by the nitpicks they gave me that I abandoned the book. Actually, I think I abandoned more than one book in this fashion. I learned this was not the best way for me to work. ;)

But I know a few published people that have folks read as they go along, so I can totally see where you're coming from. I'm just so anal-retentive when it comes to the entire thing that I can't let someone see it until it's as good as I can possibly make it (without going crazy, of course).

My mom's one of my beta-readers too, though she's more of an Atta-girl reader than actual critique-giver. And the first time I gave her something to read that had sex scenes in it, I thought I'd die of humiliation. Lucky for me she never said anything about it. :)

02-20-2006, 08:54 AM
the first time I gave her something to read that had sex scenes in it, I thought I'd die of humiliation. Lucky for me she never said anything about it. :)

Oh, tell me about it! I'm trying my hand at Harlequin Blaze-type stories and low and behold! Those are the ones my mother reads. Now, to give just a very brief backstory on my upbringing, I was raised strict Catholic with almost no attention paid to sex unless it was "when you are in love and that's it!" Very reserved to say the least. Imagine my surprise when one day I read a book by Connie Mason (an absolutely wonderful romance author) that used the "C" word when describing the, ahem, male appendage. I blushed and called Mama Sonarbabe up immediately. LOL Of all the things I expected her to say, "And your point being?" was NOT amongst it. heh To make an extremely long story just a little longer, the first time I had her read my love scenes, I blushed the whole time and her only response was, "You've got Blaze down pat. Now, keep going."

02-20-2006, 09:18 AM
I write the way your co-author does, Cathy. I get the first draft in my laptop...really rough but with pretty much everything that I want including characters and subplots. But it's definitely more show than tell and very few sensory details. Then I print it out and hack the crap out of it. Then I make a copy of the first file and enter all the edits I did by hand.

Then do another lengthy edit...adding more details, tweaking the dialogue, filling in any holes that are left. Then another printing and another line by line edit. Usually after that I declare it finished and try to leave it alone for awhile. After a month or so of letting it sit, I give it another read and see how it feels. If I like it...I give it to my beta readers.

This seems to work for me...because when I do that first draft, I'm usually in a huge rush to get it all on paper. My ideas tend to hit me like a ton of bricks and I become almost desperate to get them on paper. Hence the really rough first draft.