November 17, 2013

The First Draft

Dear M,

When we start writing, we only have one goal in sight. Finish the first draft. We don't think much about what the first draft is, or how we know we've reached when we get there.

"First draft" is indeed a vague phrase. It means different things to different people. For some, it means that the skeleton of the story is written in one place. Prior to writing, we would have made notes all over the house, on the ground, on the walls, on paper, on sand, everywhere. Gathering them all up and joining them into a readable (or vaguely understandable) format and splitting them into chapters and adding connecting scenes between them makes it a first draft. What we need now is the fleshing out.

For others, the work is not in first draft until we finish the skeleton, then flesh out the characters and the plot, and connect all the dots, run a basic check for ambiguities, etc. Different writers see the first draft in different ways. But when we are racing towards the chequered flag, we don't pause to define what the flag is all about. Hit it running is the only aim. After all, it doesn't matter which definition of first draft is correct. The first draft is only a milestone; it is by no means the end. It is where you pause, take a long break, throw the effort to one side and look around. Then again, we have to return to back-breaking work, perfecting the draft.

The first draft is the easiest part of the business, contrary to popular belief. It only involves writing. Just writing non-stop, without thinking more than necessary. It's after the first draft that the tough part comes. Sometimes it involves rewriting the whole manuscript, ploughing the manuscript up and making changes wherever needed.

But when we start writing, we do not bother about any of these. (If we do, we will not be able to start.) We do not bother about the skeleton or the flesh. Nor about the plot or the character development. Nor about the editing or the ploughing. We just write, our eyes on the goal - the end of the First Draft.


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1 comment :

  1. True ! I know when I have done my first draft, I was only thinking about the flow of points rather than grammer and all that stuffs ...good one!