Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting it wrong the first time

So you're writing your new WIP. The first draft is going great. You're loving your characters, you're making your own head spin with the sheer awesomeness of your plot... and then you get to the end. And you heave a big sigh and congratulate yourself.

And then, sometime later -- whether that day, or that week, or whenever you pull your manuscript out and kickstart your revisions -- you realize you got. It. All. Wrong.


You completely misunderstood your own intentions with this novel. Your plot zigged when it clearly should have zagged. Your MC's best friend randomly acts like a douche when that's the complete opposite of how they should be acting.

You ask yourself, "How the bloody hell did I not notice how wrong this all is?!"

I do this almost every single book I write. First drafts, as they say, really are shit. My first drafts always get it wrong. My character arcs are so muddled and confused and when I start revising, I almost laugh at how wonky everything is.

Revisions, to me, are really re-visions. Focusing all the messiness from my first-draft delirium. Fine-tuning all the slightly-off characters. Sometimes rewriting entire plots after they make absolutely zero sense.

My current WIP only shares about 20% of the content from the original draft I wrote back in August. At first, it was just a book about a boy who falls in love with the prince. It was cute and stuff, but it was lacking immediacy. Lacking danger. No stakes.

In my revision, I killed off the prince's dad and suddenly, my male MC's male love interest was the frigging king. Um, hello stakes!

I had the story so completely wrong. I don't even know what I was thinking, back in August.

Whoever said that writerly cliché -- "Writing is rewriting" -- they were so right.


  1. I do that too. I look at the first draft of my main WIP now and think, "what was I thinking?" I like to think that it's a much better story now but who knows how I'll feel later on...

  2. I'm the complete oposite.

    I don't do much in the way of revising. Some things might get rewritten--a new ending, an altered scene, removing something, adding something--but aside from editorial fixes, *usually* I don't change much. I'm a very clean first drafter.

    BUT...I think that's why it takes me so dang long to do a first draft. ;) Most people can write, edit, and revise in the time it takes me to just write the book.

    Huge kudos to you for being able to do that. I get flustered just having to rewrite scenes; I can't imagine being capable of reworking so much of it.

  3. nice post. I tend to be the opposite as a previous commenter already said as well. I tend to think about my story a lot before I even start writing, and even while I AM writing, that by the end...I actually have most of the story that I want. Usually. It doesn't always turn out that way, but for the most part, I think I got it right...for the plot at least. Still gotta edit. haha