Oct. 4, 2020: The Long and Winding Road that is Drafting!
Of all the steps in the process of writing, I truly enjoy drafting. For me, it is the most private, (just me and the story) the most non-judgmental, (no critiques or assessments) and filled with potential, ( this will clearly be a blockbuster!) Drafting is like a nice, solitary drive in the car. A road trip for one. Yes, it is a long journey, from the first word to the last. I am currently still working on the first draft of a manuscript that I started back in February. But like many long road trips, the journey is half the fun. And like all long journeys, there are many unexpected surprises along the way.
How many of these have you experienced during your drafting stage?
The traffic jam: This is when your writing gets bogged down. Maybe it just slows to a crawl. Maybe it comes to a screeching halt. Either way, the flow has been interrupted and you now worry you will not reach your destination when expected. Dealing with a traffic jam can mean simply accepting that you will have to adjust your timetable and soldier through, or find a different route around the bottleneck.
The detour: This is when you are chugging along and suddenly find yourself off the path you intended to take. The event or scene that has materialized was not in your outline or plan, but somehow it just appeared and needed to be told. Detours usually happen for a reason that is out of your control, so accept the detour and carry on.
The scenic route: You are making great progress as you write, and suddenly, you feel that you are in too barren a spot. You need to veer off a bit and bring some beauty, some art, some detail or some lyrical language into your words. Embrace it and savor the uniqueness it is adding to your story.
The speed of the highway: These are the parts of your story that speed along with the purpose of a highway. The superfluous fades away and the core of the story is revealed as you journey through the narrative. You make great progress in these stretches and get considerably closer to the ultimate destination.
The meandering back roads: This is when your story needs a little spicing up or flavor. You know it is time to get off the highway and to see what treasures can be found off the beaten path. Sometimes you know what you are looking for in these meanderings, and sometimes you do not. The power of the back roads is that they are introspective and unexpected.
The flat tire: There is something or someone in your story that has gone flat, is preventing the story from moving on, and just needs to be changed, (ie, eliminated). Change that tire as quickly as possible and continue on.
The overheated engine: Oh no! There is a critical problem that threatens to derail the entire project. You need to find the root cause. Perhaps you need to look at the mechanics, the structure, the backstory. You may even have to pull out your owner’s manual (ie. your writing resources) to diagnose the problem. But once you do, deal with it, and get back on the road.
The first draft of the manuscript is critical in laying the foundation for your revisions and edits. It is just the beginning of the work required to bring a story to publication. But like many road trips, the journey is part of the joy of reaching the destination.
Happy Drafting everyone!