This is topic Rough Drafts--Laughable drafts? in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by s_merrell (Member # 5339) on :
I'm currently writing for Camp NaNoWriMo. Which means that I should be writing that right now, not this. Shh. I'll get back to that soon enough.

So I'm writing on my pet project--the project I've had in mind for a very, very long time. You know, the one that you prize and hope will make it more than anything else.

But writing for National Novel Writing Month is like taking a story and mutilating it to get more words out of it. Doing that to a treasured story is heartbreaking.

To compare: my current draft for NaNoWriMo, if it were of the Lord of the Rings, would read something like

So. There's this bumbling little guy named Bilbo, and he's really really old, and he's having a birthday party. And everyone's talking about it, because living to 111 years old is pretty odd all around, but Bilbo's odd anyway. It doesn't help that there are already rumors about him. And he's a hobbit--they're all hobbits. Weird little folk that smoke a lot of tobacco.
In short, it reads like I'm describing the story--with dialogue stuck in there--more than I'm narrating the story. Is this how rough drafts are supposed to work? I'm usually one of those slow writers who takes a very long time on whatever they write, poring over every word choice, trying to make it as best as possible, requiring very little rewriting.

Which means I don't end up writing a lot--which, if I'm going to go after creative writing as a career, is death. I'm new at this sloppy draft concept.

My worry is that it's too sloppy. That I need to be putting at least a little bit of effort into my rough draft. How rough is rough? For you, anyway. I want to know.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
NaNoWriMo is about quantity. Period. Based on an assumption that free writing will connect lateralized brain functions, right brain creativity and left brain logic that track in habitual grooves, perhaps subconscious mind participation too, putting a creative vision into written word exercises writing muscles and delateralizes entrenched, engrained writing habits.

It's okay to mutilate a creative vision if for no better reason than to get the dross out of your system and find an access to the pure precious metal.

Leave the reworking phase for its proper place as much as possible, after raw drafting. As your writing skills develop from productive reworking, your raw drafting skills will follow suit.
Posted by History (Member # 9213) on :
Looks like your summarizing the story instead of writing, which may be helpful to you to reach a first draft. I haven't done a NaNo (and likely never will until I retire, if even then); but I imagine a very tight and complete outline from which one could then write the narrartive, checking off completed segments as one goes would be helpful. Best of luck.

Dr. Bob
Posted by MAP (Member # 8631) on :
Clearly you will have a lot to do in editing or even a rewriting stage.

But you are thinking through the story. You might have to fill in the details, but you could end up with a really solid story arc.

This may be a different method than you normally do, but it might be worth trying. Maybe you will find that it works better than your regular process, or maybe not. But I think it is worth experimenting a little to find the process that works best for you.

So in other words, just keep going and see what you get once you reach the end.

Good Luck!!!
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
What Dr. Bob said, s_merrell. Your example sounded more like an outline than a manuscript.

However, that is one way to write a novel, and it might work for NaNoWriMo, come to think of it.

The "way" I'm talking about is to write an outline, then go back through it and flesh it out. You can go through it as many times as you need to, adding details (and scenes, and even characters as needed), until you have your 50,000 words.

Might be interesting to try, anyway.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
In the rough draft, I have to consciously turn off my expectation that it will be worth anything. If I expect it to be good, or anything other than me barfing my ideas out onto the page, I will be crippled and will never get to "The End." Once I've completed the draft, THEN I allow myself to worry about making it actually be any good.
Posted by s_merrell (Member # 5339) on :
YES! That is exactly the philosophy I was thinking of. I never finish anything, so maybe by writing with terrible expectations, I'll throw enough drivel on the page to actually go somewhere and have something happen. Maybe there will be enough scraps left over that it will be worth rewriting. But I'll never know unless I write it!
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
Been said more elegantly already. But I'll repeat it. You can always edit words on paper. You can't edit a blank page.
Posted by BoldWriter (Member # 9899) on :
For me, the rough draft is like draining my brain. It starts half full. As you write you open the spout and it splashes out on to the page.

I love just letting it out, and while i'm writing, I constantly look back at what I just wrote and think: 'I can't wait to [change/fix/explore] that'. The words I write become place holders for the full idea I have in my brain as I go along. By the time I get to the end, I usually have a much better idea of what my story is really about, and my brain is now completely full of ideas.

From your posts you seem like a very thoughtful and methodical writer. You set your drain on medium and you are careful about where the splashes land. Oh how I wish I were more like that sometimes. But you seem more displeased because your style is more exacting than what you are being expected to do.

I would suggest that you embrace your style, but still push yourself to open the tap a little wider and explore the drops that fall outside the lines. Nothing makes someone want to keep writing than that spark of inspiration, and I often find that it comes from that drop outside the lines.

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