The Pornography Wars – The first Draft

The Pornography Wars – The first Draft

I am partway through the last chapter of the first draft. Currently my latest novel is 48,000 words. By the time I have completed the first draft it will be in excess of 50,000 words.

The first draft is always the fun part for me. It is when I lay down the bare bones, find my characters, develop plots, personalities and allow the ideas to come to life.

A first draft always goes differently to how it was first envisioned (no matter how carefully the plot was scripted). As the character come to life things change. I find that they would not do certain things and would do other things.

A first draft is always about problem solving. How one can get from A to B. Why would this happen? What would be the result of that?

I like Science Fiction because it enables me to have a broader canvas. I do not write about magic or fantasy. I write about science and human nature. I take on board what Arthur C Clarke said about science – ‘Superior technology is indistinguishable from magic’. My aliens can do many weird things because their superior technology enables them to.  I like that.

In the next few days I shall complete the first draft.

I shall then carry out the first rewrite. I will put the flesh on the bones – the settings, descriptions, characters. I shall make them real. By the time I will have completed that I should have a word count in excess of 60,000 words. I will then edit and add. That usually adds a further 2000 words. Then it will receive a couple of further edits by which time I will have become sick of it!

A bit of time between edits is a good thing. It gives me perspective and objectivity. Too long and I’ll have forgotten too much. Too much editing and the writing becomes stale and overworked.

The joy of writing!!

8 thoughts on “The Pornography Wars – The first Draft

  1. Mmmm… I can’t write anything like as fast as you!

    When I wrote my one and only novel, I knew where I wanted to end up, and had a rough idea of the scheme of things, but I never produced an explicit plot document. I simply wrote it chapter by chapter. Of course, that meant that when a chapter went off in a slightly different direction from what I had expected, I had to go back through the earlier chapters, revising anything which didn’t fit with the new direction. I’m also a compulsive editor – I like to get the style of a chapter as right as I can, before going on to the next. That takes time. I also had several periods of months at a stretch, when I couldn’t make any progress at all, because I wasn’t sure where the story was going next.

    Chapter 1, I had written as a stand-alone story back in 2005. Chapter 2 I wrote in July 2007. It took me two and a half years from there to complete the first draft of 52 chapters. Then another 11 months and 23 drafts of editing, before I submitted it to a publisher. They liked it, and said they would publish it, but they went bust before they could actually do it. When I found out they had gone bust, which took almost a year, I went the self-publishing route. I still had some editing to do – when the cover had been designed, I still had to change a few details in the text to fit in with it! And there were lots of minor issues, like getting the white space between sections exactly right, correcting minor typos, and making sure that words, which were deliberately mis-spelt for linguistic reasons, remained in their correct mis-spellings! My final published version was 86,000 words – 13 per cent bigger than the first complete draft.

    Doing it that way also meant that the characters grew better and better defined as the novel progressed. In retrospect, it was hard work doing it that way. I never envisaged, for example, that someone who entered the story as a chef would turn out to be also a former Olympic discus thrower! (And an irascible one, too…) One thing I may have got wrong was that I had too many characters – a total of 63 named characters, not counting bit-part players who didn’t acquire names. So I found it difficult to bring them all out as well as I would have liked to.

    But I agree, science fiction does allow a nice broad canvas. You find yourself constructing an alien civilization (or, in my case, a whole Galaxy of civilizations) in far more detail, than ever finds its way into the book! Oh, and I also ended up, a few years later, devising a complete language for one of the species in the book; though only two words of that language actually appear in the text.

    1. Lol Neil – I couldn’t work that way!! I use broad brushstrokes to encapsulate the ideas – get the main characters and set it flowing. I work quickly to patch it all together as the ideas flow. Then I go back and add the fine brush strokes to the outline I’ve penned it. It works for me. I rarely go back and edit while I’m writing. I know I can change and backfill/change when I have the full outline. I enjoy the flow of ideas and problem-solving
      . That’s the fun part for me.

      1. I don’t enjoy the writing process itself so much. It’s hard work, and I lose track of time! And occasionally, I end up with pain in the back or shoulders. But I do enjoy the pleasure from reading back what I’ve written, when I’ve got it into a state where I can be reasonably happy with it.

      2. Different for me. I lose myself in the writing. If the ideas are flowing I am filled with a warm glow and can keep going for ever. I find it extremely fulfilling.
        With the rewriting and editing, it is different. I have to work at that – but reading it back is enjoyable.

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