Friday, August 3, 2007

Writing VS Re-writing, sigh...

By Lonnie Cruse

Oh, the dreaded first draft. So much harder than re-writes/edits. I recently finished the first rough draft in the fifth book of the Metropolis Mystery Series. Throughout the writing process, I always struggle to turn off what writers call “The Inner Editor” which tells me my work stinks (Maybe it does? Eeeek!) That nobody will read it. (Maybe they won’t??? Eeeek!) That I should give up writing and go back to needlework. (Maybe I should? But then I’d miss writing! Eeeek!)

During the rough draft process I keep thinking how much easier the re-writing/editing process is, and I can’t wait to get there. Because while I know the beginning of the story, and usually the ending, I don’t have a clue how to fill the two hundred to three hundred pages between! What am I going to write? Where will I take my characters? What will happen to them? Can I pull it all together? Will it make any sense if I do? Yes, the re-write/edit will be MUCH easier. Can’t wait to get there. So, I plod along, trying to write a story that does make sense, that will catch the reader’s attention. I make notes along the way to remind me what to research and which errors to fix when I realize I’ve made them. And I worry and fret. Then the story is done and I write those magic words THE END.

Someone on the DorothyL discussion list recently asked if writers always type the words, THE END. Nearly all said they type something to indicate that the story is finished. Might be the words, or it might be some journalism sign, but they do type it. It gives the author closure, indicating the story really is done, and now it’s time for re-writes/edits.

Oh, the dreaded re-writes/edits. Once I’m in that stage, I suddenly remember how easy it was to write the first draft and how difficult to edit it. How long will the edit take? Can I make my deadline? Can my critique group critique it by my deadline? Will my publisher love it or reject it? What if I miss something that the reader catches, after the book is in print, for the whole world to see? What if people fall in the floor, laughing at my stupidity? Eeeeek!

Whatever stage I’m at in my writing, that stage seems to be the toughest, and other writers seem to feel the same. And I hate writers who swear their first draft is always suitable to send to their editor. Without editing it (they claim they edit out errors as they type) without anyone critiquing it first. Nearly ready for publication. I rank them with women I’ve met who didn’t have stitches when they gave birth to their children, and who swear those same children slept all night from the very day they came home from the hospital. Snort.

Well, sigh, time to get back to the dreaded edits. But, I do have an idea for a new manuscript I’d like to start. Perhaps I should do that first? Surely that first draft will go quickly? Maybe I won’t even have to edit it?

Wow, anyone else see the pig that just flew by my window?


Sandra Parshall said...

I hate writing a first draft and can dawdle forever before getting started, but I love rewriting. The second draft is when I pull everything together, fill in holes, give birth to new characters if I see a need, act on the brilliant suggestions from my fantastic critiquers. I'm so eager to get into the second draft that I usually don't finish the first. I leave the ending off, because I know my ideas about it will change while I'm rewriting the rest.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for sharing this just two days after I finished a first draft. Coming from a short story writing background, I constantly edited the novel so it isn't rough at all. But that doesn't mean I think it's good. Just that it isn't rough. I think leaving a certain roughness would have allowed an easier second entry if that makes sense. It's too damned polished to see the flaws. It's a closed tomb.

Lonnie Cruse said...


Good luck with your novel and let us know what happens. I bet it will be terrific!

Sandy, maybe I should try not finishing the first draft and doing the re-write. My MAIN concern is the characters because I know there are some suspects that need to be fleshed out. I'm working on it, sigh.

See ya'll later!