NaCreSoMo #5: Sketching

I did a few big creative-type things today, but most of them are things I've either talked about already or plan to talk about at a later time.

My big thing today was first-drafting one chapter of NEEDS A BETTER CODE NAME. There are books upon books and blogs upon blogs out there of writing advice. How to write, when to write, how much revision to do and how little, how much alcohol should be ingested prior to each writing session... All of which is valuable advice for somebody, but not necessarily for you.

What I've come to understand about my general process is that the first draft of almost everything I write bears only a passing resemblance to the final product. My first drafts are rough sketches--I'm not paying any attention whatsoever to pretty turns of phrase (or at least I'm trying not to). My goal is to get the shape of a scene down on the page. To know that here is a passage describing the castle the knights are riding toward, and here is the argument they have about whether their mothers actually smelt of elderberries or whether that was just French exaggeration.

The actual words are almost irrelevant. I'm lucky if 5% of the words I write while first-drafting actually make it to the next pass. I don't feel bad about replacing all of my words with prettier ones--in fact, I plan on it. For me, this strategy helps me to just get something down on paper without worrying about what it looks like. Did I really just say that Edward's hair was shiny five sentences in a row? Doesn't matter--it's going to change in the next draft anyway! Talking heads nattering back and forth for thirty lines about whose dance slippers are the prettiest? Next draft it'll be two lines--or better yet, a conversation about international politics instead.

Once I have a rough idea of what the scene will look like--who stands where and discusses what with whom--it gets much, much easier to figure out the right words to convey what I'm picturing. In many cases, the first-drafting even helps me to figure out what I'm picturing in the first place.

A few lines that might actually make it into the next draft: "Hearth had a real name once." And (unrelated), "I know liars when I see them. I'm a liar myself by trade."