Yeah, hey guys. So I promise I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, I've just dropped off the face of inspiration because I've been doing a lot of writing for one class, and the other is Latin 101 ('nough said).
I also tried to make a strict blogging plot for the next few months and ended up trying to force myself to write about things I'm not actually interested in, which was a mistake and completely turned me off to blogging for a little while. That's entirely my fault.
So, with NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I thought I'd do a post about rewriting your stories, and why it's okay for rough drafts to be completely horrible and the worst thing you've written since the age of five.
Yep! Planning, writing, rewriting, screaming into the void, it's all part of the process. I personally have always disliked the thought of rewriting, or rather, been afraid of it, and I've just recently learned exactly how bad a rough draft is allowed to be. So now I'm gonna talk about it, because that's the natural order of things, apparently.
Read on for random things I've learned about the writing process that should be old hat to all of us...but no.
The first rough draft is SUPPOSED to be bad.
In fact, I don't even call them rough drafts much anymore. I refer to my first draft as a vomit draft. Yep. Lovely imagery there. But seriously, its true. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my stories, so it took a while for me to pick this up. Your rough draft can be the worst thing on the planet, and when you're done writing it, it is perfectly acceptable to wish for its instant demise.
See, the thing with rough drafts is they aren't really sure what they want to be yet. You've got the idea for your story, and maybe a plot, and maybe some character development, but when you begin to actually write, you might realize that it's not going the way you thought it might originally. You might come up with a better idea halfway through the book, or you might realize that a certain character isn't at all what you first thought he was going to be.
So basically: Rough drafts can be the worst, the most nonsensical, incongruous crap ever written. The only thing that matters at this stage is that you WRITE DOWN THE STORY. Everything else is details.
It's okay to deviate from your original plot.
I do it all the time! Like I said earlier, plotting a story and actually writing it are two completely different creatures, and you might realize that your carefully made and meticulous outline won't work with your characters, or there's a HUGE GAPING PLOT HOLE you didn't plan for. Or one of your characters decides that they're NOT ACTUALLY GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE A CRISIS AND LEAVE THEIR ROOMMATE TO DO IT. ORION NEVER ASKED FOR THIS JAMES, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!
AS I WAS SAYING.
Let your story meander and change as you go. Be flexible! It's a first draft! You might come across a gem of a plot point that you would never have discovered if you'd kept closely to your written outline. Leave future drafts for polishing and making sense.
That being said, keep that plot around. DO! NOT! DELETE! THE! PLOT! You will hate yourself later if you do, I promise. Keep that notebook, or document, or file, or whatever you have it saved on, because it will absolutely come in handy in the future.
Don't be afraid of things changing in your rewrite.
I'll be honest, this is difficult for me. There are so many scenes in the story I'm working on now that I absolutely love, and I'm afraid that if I rewrite the story, they won't make it in. But you know what? That's okay! I'll still have my rough draft saved on my computer, it's not like it'll be gone forever, and I can always use it as a reference or add stuff in later. And anyway, you'll probably end up writing lots of wonderful things in your second draft. It might even be better (correction: it WILL be better), because this time around you'll be more familiar with your plot, characters, and where you really want the story to go, since you got all your word spews out in the first draft and now you have all that lovely material to work with! Which isn't remotely overwhelming!
You'll have a better grasp on your plot and characters each time you write.
The more time you spend with your story, the more predictable your characters become to you, and the easier it becomes to write them. Instead of one of them randomly deciding he doesn't want to save the world (yes, I'm still salty about my character's badly-timed emotional meltdown), you can give them the initiative you know they need to still want to do it (for James: the destruction of his guitar).
You'll also be more comfortable with your plot. Instead of it waddling off to eat cupcakes, it might actually start listening to you! You'll have a better understanding of where you want it to go, and because you know your characters so much better, you'll know if anything in the plot is out of character for them, and how to fix it (no kidding, it took me like FOUR YEARS to realize that the ending of one of my stories was completely unrealistic and my snobby noblewoman would never marry a peasant).
This will result in a much more solid story, and as your characters gain depth and your plot becomes more believable and tied-together, your novel and writing will improve. You'll be able to focus more on details you might not think about when you're still character wrangling (it's a legit sport, I just invented it), and for all your hard work, you'll have something at the end to be proud of!
So there you have it! And while we're on the topic, what kind of experiences have you had with rewrites and rough drafts? Have you ever had a story run away from you and do all kinds of unexpected things without your permission? Tell me about your wacky writing adventures in the comments.