I am in love with…

Toni Jordan.

and my most recent favourite bit of advice, forget about the editing…for now.

I am currently taking part in her First Draft Post Mortem course with Writers Victoria and think it is just brilliant. It’s a four week course where we dissect our manuscripts and reassemble them (taking the postmortem metaphor way too far, we are becoming Mary Shelleys I guess, although hopefully creating something far less monstrous 🙂 )

I missed the first installment of this class when the family and I were jaunting about in New Zealand, I had considered flying back early to attend the class but the cost was just crazy. After attending the second class, I kinda wish I had.

One of the things Toni spoke about that stuck quite firmly in my mind is not to consider the editing process at all when writing your first draft. The first draft should be the draft of your heart, the one that you love/have to write. Don’t think about story arcs, about character development, about internal, interpersonal and physical conflict, about three or five acts, about the creation and resolution of tension. Just write the damn thing. If you spend your time rereading and editing and being concerned about producing the perfect saleable or publishable manuscript while you are creating it, you run the risk of removing all your freshness and creativity.

It was such a nice thing to realise, to release myself from the pressure of editing until the story is written.

the draft of your heart

The frightening thing I next realised ws how vastly different my finished manuscript will ultimately be to my first draft. It’s incredible to think I will practically rewrite this entire thing! Holy moly!

Another little snippet I found reassurring was when I highlighted the fact that as my story evolved the voices of the two narrators have become more and more similar and I suspected I would need to rewrite narrator 2 in close third person. Toni revealed that she writes first in first person and then rewrites into third person, that way she finds she understands the character better. The rewrite will be a big job, but I now feel approaching it from this perspective, that it doesn’t need to be polished just yet, it has freed me up to finish writing the draft, continue in first person but not worry about the distinctiveness of the voices quite so much.

But woah nelly is there some work ahead of me!

On the bright side it is just one week to my self designed mini writers retreat. Ok the writer isn’t mini, the retreat is, but you know what I mean 🙂

Any suggestions on how to structure my weekend? I intend to greatly increase my manuscript’s word count, but think I also need to have a few other writing exercises – maybe some flash fiction (perhaps something from the previous challenges set by the brilliant Chuck Wendig), maybe a little rewrite of the first person 2nd narrator into a third person – open to suggestions.

10 responses to “I am in love with…

  1. I was going to suggest looking up some of Chuck Wendig’s wisdom, but I see that you’re already a member of his illustrious school of inkslinging. 😀

    To get things moving I like to yank my characters out of canon and put the way out of their comfort zones. Or maybe put one IN his comfort zone and put another way out of it. The “What if?” game, while almost cliché, works.

    Weirder is a weird form of insert: You write yourself in, using the second person, and observe what your characters are doing.


    • Wow, you’ve got me thinking about that weirder last one, writing myself in to observe. On the one hand I kinda think I’m already doing something like that when I write at all, but on the other hand, as a writing exercise maybe it’s something I could work on. Throw in a bit of actual judgement and opinion. Not something I could carry for a whole manuscript, how annoying would that be to the reader! But writing an excerpt like that coudl really highlight some things….

      On the other other hand (cos I have three of them you know) I could write in a cameo appearance by me, then I’d get to be even famouser when the movie rights are inevitably sold 🙂


      • I tried that one once, basically plunking myself down as an observer to really get a lock on how my characters would behave in slice-of-life situations:

        You can’t help but wonder why the man in front of you has just ordered a red eye [shot of espresso in standard coffee]. He’s already got the jitters, if the constant tinkle-and-jingle of his keys is any indication…

        I got the idea, honestly, because of reading “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.” The book begins “You are about to begin reading ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler’ by Italo Calvino…” The way it works, you wind up forming a LOT of information just by running through the “He looks like the kind of guy who’d ___” approach just by dropping in to people-watch in the narrative.

        Pfft…if I had a cameo, I’d probably be the one hanging around making cheeky observations—much to my male lead’s consternation.


      • Might have to look that one up, haven;t heard of it, but it’s a really interesting take, I need to think more on it. Thanks for getting my cogs turning 🙂


  2. David Michael Williams

    It’s amazing how many writers think the first draft has to be perfect, especially since it almost never (if not truly never) is. That’s when you find a person rewriting chapter one a million times. I’m a firm believer that the first draft is about getting the characters and plot on paper. And even if you use an outline, the details are going to change along the way, often for the better.

    I’m currently reading through the rough draft of a novel with my wife, and she and I are finding A LOT that needs to be cleaning up, rearranged, deleted, reworked, supported, etc. It’s incredibly humbling and intimidating, but there are advantages to working on the second draft: you know what works and what doesn’t. My first step is to outline all of the issues. With my last novel, that ended up being something like twenty questions that I forced myself to answer before beginning the on-page edits.

    Writing the first draft should be a fun, almost carefree experience. Editing, I think, is a lot more scientific and an entirely different skill set than what was used in step one. It’s kind of like “now the honeymoon is over, and you’re gonna have to work to make this thing last.”

    Best of luck to you!


    • Oh geez, I used to be one of those “THE FIRST DRAFT MUST BE PERFECT” types. I managed to get quit of that one year when I decided to be crazy and try NaNoWriMo. You just have to get the story out of your head—then worry about making it pretty. You get a lot more finished when you just focus on getting it done instead of getting it perfect. Heck, ‘perfect’ is a moving target, and you might never get anything done going fir perfect.

      And as Chuck Wendig would say, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


      • My first ever manuscript was a nano one, and you’re right, you just need to get the story done, 1667 words a day, perhaps its somehting I need to do myself to get this manuscript finished! Deadlines have always been my friends.


    • I think you’re spot on, the first draft should be fun, if you aren’t having fun writing it right out of the gate then why will the reader have fun reading it? And as you say, editing is a completely different beast.


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