Friday, May 16, 2014

Drafting vs. revising

There are few things more fun than the discovery process of a new project. I just love the moment when I figure out a troublesome plot point, or where suddenly, that relationship I've been struggling with makes perfect sense. I love the hours I spend letting all those new characters and plot twists come together in my head.

And then when I write those characters and plot twists out for the first time, I grimace and mutter, "Oooooh. That sucked."

Sometimes my drafting sessions are fantastic, but other times, writing those more complicated scenes feels like an extraction. It depends, from project to project. I have my manuscripts that were an absolute dream from start to finish, and then there's my current manuscript. When it was in draft form, it was a bit of a problem child. Or, as I called it, Frankenbook.

However much I enjoyed the drafting process, though, when I reach revisions, my enjoyment of the project reaches another level. My favorite point of any given project is the point where I can be sitting on the train and think, "Oh wait, that one line of dialogue in Chapter Eight contradicts what she says in Chapter Three." There's nothing I love more than being so deep into a project that I can see where storylines need to link together, or where to strengthen the resolution of a tertiary conflict. It's the point where writing becomes architecture as much as art: I have my frame, the bare bones of each floor, and now I'm going to develop it, trim it back where trimming is needed and build the rest out.

And then there are writers who are the opposite. Who can sit down and write a full, beautiful draft within a matter of months (or even weeks) with little to no agonizing. But once that draft is done, the less fun part begins. Revising, to them, can be like pulling teeth.

Rarely, of course, do writers fall neatly into #TeamDrafting and #TeamRevising. But I've found that even if most writers love aspects of both processes, there's usually one that they enjoy at least a little bit more.

Which do you prefer? And if you're equally brilliant at both: tell the rest of us your secret. ;)


Kimber Leigh said...

While I do enjoy both drafting and revising, I have to admit I like revising quite a bit more. My drafts have a tendency to be very dialogue driven with little description at all (save for the action scenes). It's fun to take a skeleton draft and flesh it out into something... well... alive.

Karen McCoy said...

This post is perfect timing for me, as I'm on the second draft of a novel and it's looking like a gigantic dung pile at the moment. It's very skeletal, and fleshing it out in the right moments is the challenge...but I'm liking how things are developing.