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barth
Posted on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 07:18 pm:   

Heather Shaw said:

Re: Shitty first drafts...

Well, I'll get an idea. Or a phrase. And it'll repeat in my head for awhile. Things I see as I walk to and from work will relate to the thing repeating in my head. Characters appear at some point (or sometimes they're the first thing to come) speaking the phrase, having conversations. (Lots of conversations going on in my head for years now, honestly. It's like I had no choice but to write some of them down or go mad.)

I'll think on it, try to beat the whole thing into some sort of story shape. At least figure out how it might end, or, at the very least, what the second scene would be or if the scene that's forming is even the first scene.

Eventually, it all comes together into a story, and I sit down and write it. A little bit at a time, over weeks.

Sometimes it's close to the right structure. Other times the setting is about 100 years too late and I need to rewrite it in the present day. I'm getting better at cleaner drafts, but I'm still a rewriter a lot of the time.

Each draft gets a number. 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 (usually a major revision gets a new number in the, um, ones place?). Most stories these days end up under or at 4.5; used to be 7 or 8.9 before they'd be done. I save all drafts on my hard drive.

The novel is different. The novel has an outline and my characters keep wanting to take road trips. It's too big to hold in my head most times, so they sneak a few in, but it keeps me interested, which is nice for a longer work. I'm nowhere near done yet, so I'm not sure about rewriting, and, honestly, don't want to think about it until I have a draft done. Otherwise I might never finish!

Heh. Interesting topic! Too bad a panel isn't happening....perhaps it's more of a Living Room kind of discussion anyway, like the Endicott studios do every year, you know?

then barth said:

"Each draft gets a number. 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 (usually a major revision gets a new number in the, um, ones place?). Most stories these days end up under or at 4.5; used to be 7 or 8.9 before they'd be done. I save all drafts on my hard drive."

that's a pretty good system, heather. when does a draft get a new "decimal"? every time you twiddle with the prose?
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Heather Shaw
Posted on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 01:11 pm:   

Yup! Well, I mean, if I change just a word or a sentence, I usually don't save a whole draft, but if I go through and do a revision that doesn't add anything major (usually meaning no new scenes), it gets a decimal.
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Celia
Posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 05:15 am:   

Hmm. I usually start with a scene, leave it sitting around for months on end (quite often years, depending on the scene), and then come back to it at some point and write more/the whole story. I don't usually start saving variations on drafts until after I've written the whole thing. Towards the last half of the story, I give it its own folder. Once I start changing things around dramatically, then I start giving them dates in their titles. Or rename them repeatedly. One of my stories has drafts of 4 different names, I think, before I finally went back to my first title.

Of course, the only story I've sold as of yet, Wounds, had two drafts. I wrote it, put it up on the workshop, came back a week later and revised it, and sent it out, and sold it. Though, considering how few things I've finished since then, it's probably something I should take as yet another reminder to keep writing new things, and spend less time fixing older stories. If only I had new stories to write. I should go through my piles of scenes and see if I've figured out any stories recently.

I think it's just easier for me to see where I want older stories to be going than it is to see where new stories are headed, and revising, for me, takes less...not thought, but dedicated time--I can put it down and pick it up later--and I seem to have lost most of my attention span lately.

As far as finding scenes at a later date--god bless the find files 'included text' function. because every once in a while, I say to myself, "you know, that passage you wrote 7 years ago about lobsters, it would fit here so perfectly. I can't believe you don't remember what you called the file after 7 years. You're worthless. Don't talk to me anymore." But luckily, I can just look up 'lobsters.' or other such keywords, and find the story I'm looking for. Proof, obviously, that you should always put a really weird word in every story so you can find it later on.

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