Sunday, April 24, 2011


Decisions, decisions, decisions. That’s what writing is all about. Many of those decisions should be intuitive in the first draft or drafts. How do you make decisions intuitively? You put yourself in the right place.

Easy to say. Hard to do.

I've put myself in the wrong place a whole lot I often realize as I revise my manuscript. What was I thinking? How did I go right when I should have turned left? Why couldn’t I see the opportunity for the relationship between my three main characters and the central conflict in that relationship? I didn’t exploit that. Missed opportunity. Missed. Missed. Missed.

But—doesn’t matter. To get a first draft on paper I just have to feel like I’m going in the right direction, making the right decisions, and make them well enough that I don’t end up in Anchorage when I’m trying to get to San Diego. So, I won’t get to San Diego in my first draft, but I will go in the general direction of San Diego. I will get close enough that maybe with work in revision I’ll know how to get there.

The intuitive decisions of a first draft, along with the conscious ones, only need to be roughly successful. That’s all. Most of the real work, in the heavy lifting sense, happens in revision.

Or so I think today.


Sherrie Petersen said...

I need to remember this. It's so hard to let go and just write the damn thing. I want it to be perfect and I'm horrified when less than lovely prose comes out of my effort. *sigh*

Brian Yansky said...

Know the feeling. That first draft is just so messy.