Friday, March 18, 2011

A framework for the beauty to come

Having reached the customary point in my first draft where I start fretting about rising word count (roughly seven chapters in), I needed this timely reminder from author Patti Hill, over at the excellent Novel Matters blog today.

It's a first draft, I'm reminded, and therefore it ain't gonna be perfect. In my case that means it's going to sprawl. It's going to burst at the seams with my indulgence toward setting. It's going to be filled with rabbit trails in dialogue and character internals and way too much stage business as I throw onto the screen everything I see these fascinating people doing and thinking; I'm still exploring who they are, tossing ideas around on the page to see what sticks, what they pick up and run with.

What they leave behind I'll come along in the next draft (or the one after that) and tidy up.

"... perfectionism," sayeth Patti, "will not get you through a first draft, the draft meant to be nothing more than a framework for the beauty to come later."

A framework for the beauty to come. I can get my head wrapped around that freeing notion.

~ misty mountain trail photo by Brian Stansbern, used under Creative Commons License, Wiki Commons, because I'm in a Blue Ridge state of mind


  1. Love the pictures you used to accompany this post. Gorgeous!

    My first drafts stink--but they're great because I'm writing them! When I start worrying about all of the "just's" I'm writing, I shut down. Not good!

  2. The trail photo is the kind of place I like to find myself on the weekend, though in a different mountain range. The river is Linville River, in North Carolina.

    I have to turn off the editor as much as possible during a first draft of each scene.

  3. It's all good. Sometimes I find that even if I have extra stuff in the initial writing, because I "went with it" I discovered something that I could use more fitting in later chapters.
    The photos are beautiful and very appropriate to topic. Happy writing!

  4. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Stopped by from Facebook to help you get to 10,000 but I couldn't find your counter...did you make it yet?

    Christi Corbett

  5. Christi, I did. Up to 10,013 last time I checked it. It's down the long sidebar on the right. Thanks for helping! It's just a number but I got tickled watching it count up into the upper 9900s.

    Carla, I know what you mean. Sometimes it takes following a rabbit trail for a bit to find out it was the only way to reach a deeper layer in story, character, or theme. Or maybe that's a rabbit hole....?

  6. Thanks for linking to Novel Matters, Lori. I don't think we ever get the perfectionist monster completely under control. We toss him tidbits to distract him and confuse the scent once in awhile, but he always manages to find us (me).:)

  7. Such wise words from Patti. Thank you for sharing her insights with us. And have fun with your first draft. The process of creating is such a beautiful mystery.

  8. Debbie, I think that's true.

    Bonnie, as hard as it is sometimes, at others it is breathtaking when a plot weaves together or a character grows. It's a small scale reflection of God's hand at work in the life of a man or woman. I am certain we are going to be astonished in heaven to see just how God wove the strands of our lives together for good, just like we do with our characters' lives, even the trials we send their way to grow them up and bring them ultimately to a better place.