Writing perfectly the first time - NOT!

Cassie wanted to scream, Put down that shovel!

As if yelling at the red-headed gravedigger would bring Griff back to life. A gust of wind blew Cassie Griffin's dark hair across her face, blinding her.

For one sightless moment it was as if the wind showed her perfectly what the future held for her.

I picked up my brand new copy of Montana Rose by Mary Connealy and read the first few lines from chapter one. That's all it took - I'm hooked!

Immediately I thought, Wow, she writes so well. I could never write like this. (I often think like this when reading a really well-written book. Every word fits into place perfectly, every scene, every piece of dialogue, every chapter moves the story along. No filler, nothing to pull me away from the page and back into the real world.

But this morning I realized something amazing. The finished work I'm holding in my hand was not the way the book was originally written! (Duh)  There was a first draft, lots of editing, lots of cutting and lots of tweaking. There was probably a second draft, more editing, more tweaking and who knows, maybe even a third draft.  I don't think anyone can sit down and write a book perfectly the first time.

Now, this is something I should have realized a long time ago...and to tell the truth, I have read about the process of writing many, many times. I knew all about editing and revising, but this morning, it all clicked.

It's a process. One step at a time. I'll learn as I go. I'll develop my own "voice" and I'll edit and tweak until one day someone will pick up one of my novels and be hooked after reading just the first few lines.

It will happen!
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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)


Kelly said...

My current first draft is DEFINITELY not perfect. I have different names, different ideas, but that's ok. The goal is to write and flesh out the characters. I use my first draft like a really big (long) outline.

Jan Christiansen said...

Thanks for sharing that, Kelly. I did write a 50,000+ word novel with NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, but was so discouraged with how disjointed it was that I was too overwhelmed with the amount of revisions it would take to whip it into shape, that it's been gathering dust ever since.

Not sure I will dig it out at this point and begin the edits or just start another one since I have learned so much more about writing since then, but it will be easier knowing that the first draft doesn't have to be perfect.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Writing!

Mary Connealy said...

This is so absolutely true, Jan. This first scene was added much later. The book originally started at the funeral. And in an unfortunately mix-up where Ruthy Logan Herne, my Seekerville buddy, somehow got to judge Montana Rose in an unpubbed contest she referred to Cassie's swooping emotional mixed-up feelings as Sybil. You remember Sybil, the girl with sixteen personalities?

I tried to whittle Cassie down to only one. So yes, NOT a first draft, for sure.

Jan Christiansen said...

That's so reassuring, Mary! And so funny that Ruthy compared Cassie to Sybil. (Sally Field did such a good job with that character!)

On page 54 and absolutely loving the book so far. Was tickled to see some familiar characters popping up.

Thanks for dropping my my blog. That makes this a red-letter day for me!