Surprise Yourself in the First Draft


I’m working on the first draft of a novel and I’m about 2/3 of the way through the plot, when something interesting happened.

Embrace Exploration

I’m at a point where the E, the main character, is house bound for a couple days and suddenly M, his friend, becomes the legs of the story, the only character who is moving around. I’ve been telling the story in E’s POV, 3rd person. But this section seemed to need M’s POV and to my surprise, it came out 1st person.

But then, I’m teaching in Seattle in two weeks on the topic of voice. I decided to try to rewrite M’s chapter with an edgier voice. In other words, I gave myself permission to explore the story in new ways. Wow, I like this new voice.

First drafts v. revision

First drafts are for 1) finding out what story you want to tell, and 2) exploring the story in various ways.

Revisions are for finding out what is the best way to tell that story.

First drafts should be full of surprises and serendipity.

Revisions should be full of satisfaction as all the elements start to fit into a whole.

First drafts are for roaming around and defining boundaries of the story.

Revisions are for reinforcing those boundaries and building within them.

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