Monday, January 31, 2011

Live Concerts = First Drafts

Original here

Confession: I love live concerts. The energy. The super loud music. Getting to see my favorite artist thisclose. *sigh*

I went to one last night, and as I swooned over the lead singer, I realized he and his band taught me more about writing than about electric guitars (to say I'm musically challenged is an understatement...). And since some of you are currently working on a first draft, I figured I'd share what I learned.

1) The stage/WORD document is your playground

During first drafts, it's okay to experiment. You don't have to write chronologically. You can switch between POVs till you figure out which one works best. If you've ever been to a concert, or seen one on TV, you know artists like to run around. Or jump. Sometimes both. That's because there are no boundaries on that stage. They can do whatever they want. They're free to be silly and make mistakes. So should you.

2) Singing live/drafting comes from the heart

You know how every song sounds absolutely perfect on a CD? Well, it's been edited to death. The singer's voice is flawless, with zero pitch problems. But onstage, that might not be the case. They belt out those notes without a second thought. Sometimes they hit them, sometimes they totally don't. Why? Because it's all about the moment. About how they feel, not what they think. First drafts are the place to sing from the heart. Your story is what matters--not how you tell it.

3) The audience/your characters cheer you on

The artist waves hello, people scream. The artist tells them to sing, people sing. The artist blows kisses, people die (actually, they faint, but you know what I mean...). It's these little moments of interaction that keep the artist going. Sure, they could play just fine without anyone watching them, but that's like not having great characters to write about--boring. That thirst to get your story down is the same as that audience cheering the artist on. It gives them a purpose to do what they do. It tells them that what they're doing isn't a waste of time. That it's worth it. Shouldn't your characters do the same for you?

So. There you have it. Live concerts = first drafts. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my vocal chords. I think I left them at the arena...

Quick reminder: Don't miss our Mystery Agent Contest tomorrow!!! Polish those 25-word pitches and be ready to post them in the comments! Only 50 spots available, so make sure you stop by before we reach the limit. Winner gets a FULL MANUSCRIPT request :) AND there'll be something special lined up for the rest of the entries, so don't miss out!

Now tell me: what do you love most about writing that first draft?


  1. I love the freedom of the first draft. Just let the words flow.
    I love concerts too! I'm supposed to go to one tomorrow, but a major snow storm will probably cancel those plans, darn it!

  2. Now what about the encores? I don't know even know what those are in writing Great post!

  3. I haven't been to a concert in a while. :(

    I love the first draft. It's the time I can just get my ideas on the page, let the words flow. :)

  4. Ha ha! This is a great metaphor! Sounds like you had a blast last night, too! :)

    I'm using your advice and skipping around the stage a bit. Today I think I'll write the end of my book and then fill in the 15K-or-so words in between the middle and the end.

    Happy writing to you, too!

  5. Hey there, I'm new to the blog. I'm considering entering your one-line pitch contest tomorrow, but I have a question about the 25 word thing. The limit didn't seem too enforced. Is it like a 25-50 word thing? Or get as close to 25 as you can? It seems like a really cool opportunity, I just want to be clear on the rules. Thanks!

  6. Hi Christine! 25 word cut-off, please! Longer entries will be disqualified and that would just be sad!

  7. Not EXACTLY 25, of course. That would be a pain, huh? 25 words or LESS.

  8. Thanks so much! See you there tomorrow (hopefully) :-)

  9. Holy cow! This is all so true. I cringe at live performances, because you're right, the artists go for broke, but I see the light. :)

    Great post!


  10. This post kicked you-know-what! First drafts are so hard for me to write, but what I think I love most about them is "meeting" the characters. It's odd, but sometimes they'll say or do things that I don't expect--and then I get all excited about learning more about them. :)

  11. First drafts, for me, are like making new friends. At first, you're shy, after a while you start to warm up to each other and eventually you wonder how you ever lived without them. :D

  12. Oh, I LOVE this post, perhaps because I am a fan of both first drafts AND live concerts. Everything here is so true! :)

    I love the drive behind my first drafts. I'm a fast writer, and it feels so good to be in the beat and just let the story take me on a wild ride. Like letting go and dancing madly at a live concert!

  13. THANKS, everyone! And yes, I DID have fun, Katrina ;)

    Magan--Hmm... Encores could be like the epilogue. The audience wants the artist to come back onstage and sing some more. You might want to write a little something extra after the story wraps up, just because you can't let the characters go yet. Or because it'll help them come full circle.

    Does that make any sense??? :D

  14. I like the freedom of just putting words to paper and letter the story appear . . . bits that you never planned but grew into it. Feels so creative!

  15. I love that all of my mistakes are overlooked because it's a first draft. I also love the immediacy and being able to change things on a whim. Good times. Great post!


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