Hatrack River
Home | About Orson Scott Card | News & Reviews | OSC Library | Forums | Contact | Links
Research Area | Writing Lessons | Writers Workshops | OSC at SVU | Calendar | Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » The first novel experience.

   
Author Topic: The first novel experience.
rmbryan
Member
Member # 2592

 - posted      Profile for rmbryan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I’m curious what have you experience writing the first draft of your novel. So far here is mine. It sucks, I have bad dialogue, tons of clichés, scenes that aren’t right, characters I’ve ignored, I become preachy and there is no way with my first draft am I going to get to the word number requirements. I tell not show there is no story flow I’m in the processes of discovering the story, ideas are constantly changing; I’m just discovering my characters they change to. I keep telling my self it’s a learning processes this is typical that’s why its called a first draft. Its pain staking yet fun. What have you experienced?
Posts: 9 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Christine
Member
Member # 1646

 - posted      Profile for Christine   Email Christine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds normal to me!
Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
Beth
Member
Member # 2192

 - posted      Profile for Beth   Email Beth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yup, completely normal. Don't despair.
Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Jerome
Member
Member # 2584

 - posted      Profile for Jerome           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree with Christine. It sounds to me like you're doing just fine.

Myself, I don't work that way. I have to spend about six-weeks of "pre-writing" before I start my first draft. I like to have about 80% of my story worked out before I start writing.


Posts: 24 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
djvdakota
Member
Member # 2002

 - posted      Profile for djvdakota   Email djvdakota         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds to me like you ought to step back, write a couple dozen short stories and perfect your craft.

The problems you describe would, for me, be too overwhelming to tackle on rewrites and revisions on such a large scale.

If it were me, I'd write a series of shorts, each one concentrating on a specific element you wish to improve upon.


Posts: 1672 | Registered: Apr 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Christine
Member
Member # 1646

 - posted      Profile for Christine   Email Christine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Who said anything about this being a problem? It works quite well for some people. Write write write and then when you have a sketchy load of crap rewrite it into some semblence of sanity.
Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
Void
Member
Member # 2567

 - posted      Profile for Void           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Write write write and then when you have a sketchy load of crap rewrite it into some semblence of sanity.

I need to print this and hang it up somewhere near my computer!!!


Posts: 150 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Dude
Member
Member # 1957

 - posted      Profile for Dude   Email Dude         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What works for one person is a problem for another. What rmbryan describes sounds typical for a first novel attempt, but if you are writing your third novel like that, it sounds like a problem to me. Of course, writing a novel in such a manner may work for some, but it sounds painstaking if you have to do it this way every time. Your first draft should get better with each attempt -- right? If it feels like a problem to you, then dakota's suggestion makes sense.
Posts: 266 | Registered: Mar 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Josh Leone
Member
Member # 2365

 - posted      Profile for Josh Leone   Email Josh Leone         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Every writing style is unique.
I look at first drafts as where I get the story out of my head. Second drafts are for cohession, character development, plot strengthening, adding large bits where needed for word count, and catching the biggest of the blunders. Third drafts are spelling, grammar, final chracter tune-ups, and readability. A forth run through is final spelling, grammar, and to catch any continuity issues that managed to slip by. "Wait a sec, wasn't he bald? So, why would he have been carrying a comb?"

Whatever gets the job done.

Josh


Posts: 95 | Registered: Feb 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
MaryRobinette
Member
Member # 1680

 - posted      Profile for MaryRobinette   Email MaryRobinette         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't know what you guys are talking about. My novels are always perfect from the moment they hit the page.

Outside of my fantasy world...I tend to begin a short story, realize that it's a novel and put it aside until I can outline it. (I need the structure, but not everyone does.) Except my first novel, which has so many irredeemable plot issues that it will never see the light of day. Even so, it wasn't wasted effort. I've pulled one scene out that became the basis for a short story. I used one of the characters as the basis for another elsewhere. After that first, I learned that I, personally, need to outline. Since then, my first drafts are much cleaner and the revision process is less painful.


Posts: 2022 | Registered: Jul 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
Jerome
Member
Member # 2584

 - posted      Profile for Jerome           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I came back and reread all the posts. I don't have too much to add except a word of encouragement.

It sounds like you're a new writer--at least new to the novel. I don't really believe one can be taught how to write. Sure, you can learn concepts, but they only way you can really understand how the concepts work is by writing. So you learn to write by writing.

My own suggestion would be to finish this novel. Don't worry too much about anything until you finish it. Then get a couple of good books on writing, books on technique and plot, and work your way through them.

See, I started differently. I read a bunch of books before I really started to write. That didn't help me too much because I didn't understand what I was reading. But after about six or eight months of writing, I went back to some of those books and they may much more sense.

Everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone has several "student novels" in them that will never see the light of day. That's how you learn to write.

Good luck, and I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by Jerome (edited May 25, 2005).]


Posts: 24 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Silverfoot
Member
Member # 2608

 - posted      Profile for Silverfoot   Email Silverfoot         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The first one has ended up being a great learning experience and I'm taking editing one step at a time. Don't lose hope!
Posts: 12 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
wbriggs
Member
Member # 2267

 - posted      Profile for wbriggs   Email wbriggs         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's not the way it is for me. If I can't get something decent the first time thru a scene (and it happens), I may as well stop, think it out, and write it after I've solved the problem. My rewrites help reduce word count and inconsistencies, but they can't turn crap to gold.

The first time I wrote a novel it was as you describe. It will _never_ be submitted!


Posts: 2830 | Registered: Dec 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
rmbryan
Member
Member # 2592

 - posted      Profile for rmbryan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for sharing this is my first attempt at a novel. I do write a lot of short stories. I have found the experience completely different from writing short story. Ironically my novel was suppose to be a short story and it just kept going I really want to finish it
Posts: 9 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
djvdakota
Member
Member # 2002

 - posted      Profile for djvdakota   Email djvdakota         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If the process is frustrating you, might it be the muse telling you that you're going in the wrong direction? I always find, whether writing shorts or working on a novel, that I get frustrated and unhappy with the whole process (not to mention get lazy in craftsmanship) when the story is travelling down the wrong path. When that happens I back up a few scenes, try to figure out where I might have gone wrong, and rewrite new scenes. I probably removed 20,000 words worth of unused scenes when I wrote my first draft.

Just a thought.


Posts: 1672 | Registered: Apr 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Void
Member
Member # 2567

 - posted      Profile for Void           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Gee, whiz Dakota, you've got a muse?? Mine's been MIA for at least two decades!

Do you mind if I ask how many novels you've written, even in just rough draft? I despair of even squeezing one out.


Posts: 150 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Beth
Member
Member # 2192

 - posted      Profile for Beth   Email Beth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's a good point. Sometimes I'm cheerfully making a mess and that's all well and good - but when it's excruciating and awful and I'd rather be watching Bachelorettes in Alaska, I know I've taken a seriously wrong turn.
Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
johnbrown
Member
Member # 1467

 - posted      Profile for johnbrown   Email johnbrown         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some data points:

When Orson Card finishes his first draft, he says it's basically done. No massive rewrites. However, he has at times thrown out 100 or so pages and started over because he got that far in and realized it was all wrong.

Tim Powers says "My first drafts are usually clumsy, lifeless, colorless and unclear."

David Brin once said he'd finish a draft, send it out to readers, and only keep the parts they liked.

Bernard Cornwell says that he goes through a few drafts. But has some excellent advice here: http://www.bernardcornwell.net/chapters/writingadvice.htm


Posts: 327 | Registered: Jul 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
rjzeller
Member
Member # 1906

 - posted      Profile for rjzeller   Email rjzeller         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The gist of much of this I think is everyone has a unique approach and only if you see the same problem consistently should you worry.

I completed my first novel, sent it off, got a few personalized rejections, then decided to take a third look at it.

The scenes and writing were okay, but the overall story was crap, the ending contrived, and it was hopelessly inconsistent. From three chapters an editor wouldn't see this, and that's probably why a few liked it well enough to at least scribble a remark or two on the letter. But the work as a whole was crap.

I've since dropped the idea of trying to publish it ... and so what? 104,000 words did not go to waste -- they taught me a great deal about what to avoid next time.

So finish 'er up and see where it leads. If it's utterly unpublishable, so what? Move on to the next project and use this one as a learning tool.

My 2 pennies....


Posts: 207 | Registered: Jan 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Spaceman
New Member
Member # 9240

 - posted      Profile for Spaceman           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some words of wisdom:

"The first draft of anything is s^%$."
Ernst Hemingway

The first draft is naked copy, it's not ready to be seen by anyone but the writer. It is only after the second draft that I allow my readers a look.
Stephen King (paraphrased)

You do not know how to write until you've written your first million words, that's roughly ten novels. David Gerrold (paraphrased)

It is much easier to polish a story if you write one first. - Me


Posts: 2 | Registered: Aug 2010  | Report this post to a Moderator
RaymondJohn34
Member
Member # 2595

 - posted      Profile for RaymondJohn34   Email RaymondJohn34         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
....could be like me:
Started writing my story in 1985...,
First Draft 'somewhat' completed I believe in 1989..? I say somewhat because for some reason, I figured I better skip to the ending just so that its wrapped up in case something happens to me...and at least it will have ended the way I wanted it too.
In 1989, found a type-writer in the garbage and found that it was in perfect working order....started transcribing all written pads to type.
1990-91, broke up with girl-friend, moved out of her home.., good break-up, nothing got trashed.
1992, met someone else, she moved in with me....Hated my writing anything. Kept up harsh remarks, forced me to write in private when she wasn't home....found out I was writing, more harsh remarks...one fight she decided to throw the type-writer out the front door. Trashed type-writer.
In 1993-94, got a personal word processor(not computer), started all over again with transcribing to a file (floppy disk), also began editing and tweaking the story here and there.
1998-99, house was foreclosed on, work was sporadic, on and off again, accepting low paying jobs that couldn't get bills paid, jobs weren't working me a full 40 hours....ect.
1999 girlfriends parents passed away....got the ok from brother to move into their home...two months later, she throws me out...., move into a motel....Hey...should have done that back in 1990!!
Lost my job, couldn't pay for motel room any longer, moved back in with girl-friend from 1989...stayed two months....couldn't deal with it.
Found wife of today....Love's Me....pushes me to write but find that other things have to come first....still pushes me to write.
In 2000, found a great job....things looking up. Began writing from word processor again, finding lots of mistakes in story, began editing it again....
In 2002, everyone from work, FIRED. Company said they were cutting back. Hired contract workers in our place....
Forced to become contract worker myself, no job that I'm referred to lasts more than two to three months at a time....lay-offs last two, three and sometimes four months....
During Lay-offs, Not in the mood to write, feel so useless, feel like a loser. Sometimes Unemployment kicks in, sometimes not....Searching for work all day. Sometimes companies I go to only allow me to drop off resume..., others refer me to contract companies (Personnel Services).
Personnel Services only want your information(RESUME), and have no leads like they promised when they call and tell you they have something in your field of work and to come in an fill out their paper-work.
2005, Same boat, but at least I'm working....took a 4 dollar an hour pay cut, cant make ends meet....Just not in the mood to write, so back to editing....
--Raymond John

Posts: 16 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
djvdakota
Member
Member # 2002

 - posted      Profile for djvdakota   Email djvdakota         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, Void.

Sorry it's taken so long to get back on this.

I actually don't see it as a muse, so much. Actually, I've come to believe that writers don't HAVE muses. They ARE muses. They're like radio antennaes (you guys remember what those are?) who pick up the ghosts of stories zipping around the universe. Either that, or the stories choose the writer--like the kid in The Sixth Sense. "Tell my story!" they say. You just have to be still an listen carefully. If you don't listen carefully and tell the story wrong, it won't be any fun and the story ghosts might get mad at you.

I have completed one first draft novel. BUT, it was so fetching long that it's going to need to be split into three.

So, yeah. I'm a bit overwhelmed by that!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited May 30, 2005).]


Posts: 1672 | Registered: Apr 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
franc li
Member
Member # 3850

 - posted      Profile for franc li   Email franc li         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've been waiting to write my first novel for about 12 years. And maybe I will still need to write 9 more before I know what I'm doing. But I prefer to hope that all the journalling and maybe half the email and forum writing I've been doing in the meantime is counting toward that, and has something to do with me finally being ready to start writing.

Another thing that was important for me was overcoming fear of other people seeing what goes on in my head.


Posts: 366 | Registered: Sep 2006  | Report this post to a Moderator
Void
Member
Member # 2567

 - posted      Profile for Void           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dakota--that's great about your novel. I'm sure you'll work them out.

I like your take on the muse idea. Stories waiting to be told. A man I met on an airplane recently was telling me about some of his adventures as PX manager for the military. He works for the government but isn't part of the military, so he and his staff are not issued weapons to protect themselves, even though they have to establish the stores wherever the troops are sent--some very dangerous places. Of course it all could have been a load of hogwash. I haven't tried to verify it, but it was some very interesting stuff. I told him he should write a book, but he didn't seem to think it was important enough, or that others did things that were really amazing and they should be the ones writing the books. Oh, well. It's a fact, though, that stories (true or not) are all around us.


Posts: 150 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2