Finishing the First Draft

I love having a plan. It’s exciting to finish the first draft of the series I’m writing and know that I have the next steps carefully scheduled.

“I love it when a plan comes together,” says Hannibal Smith on The A-Team.

What about when the plan wilts like a tulip in the hot sun? I don’t imagine Smith would be smiling any more than I am. Of course, he wouldn’t be on the verge of tears either. Well, he’s not a writer.

The first book is awful. Let me clarify:  I had to take naps during the afternoons when I did the read-through (step one of the rewriting process). Yep, it’s that horrendous. Basically snooze-worthy.

The characters are cardboard, tension is non-existent and even I (the creator of this universe) don’t understand the magic system and am unable to visualize the setting. Good grief!

My dilemma: where to begin to fix this masterpiece of disaster?

Image from grumpycats.com

Part of me wants to toss the whole thing in the trash and restart. Sure, I can save it in a Word document and not pay attention to it when I begin again. That way I don’t just delete months of work – some of which might be redeemable.

Another part of me screams, “That’s 50,000 words wasted!” I try to tell myself that they were well-spent words, helping me find my characters and figure out what the story was really about. Even if they’re true, those words fall on deaf ears. I don’t want to listen to that which sounds like excuses for the emotionless bore that I penned.

In truth, there are about ten scenes that I feel are well-written. I cared about the characters and could visualize what was happening during those few moments. I should keep those few remnants and begin again.

My fingers freeze over the delete button. I’m not in love with these words. I read them. They bored me to death. The story is so dead the undertaker arrived with his hearse.

Why am I arguing with myself over this?

The ugly truth: I have a schedule. My master plan doesn’t involve another month for a complete rewrite. It allowed two weeks for revisions and then another two or three for polishing the prose. There are beta readers chomping at the bit.

They would never read something written by me again if they glimpsed the horror show of my first draft. Someone is shaking their head, assuming I’m being a typical perfectionist writer. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Joan!)

Uh – no. I wouldn’t recommend these pages for use as toilet paper. Out of 50,000 words, maybe 8,000 reveal character and build tension. I’m not even sure a match would choose to devour most of this drivel.

I waffled before starting this book. I didn’t want to let the series that I was in the middle of before die. I loved it. It’s obvious that the words in this book were torn from the fingers of a reluctant storyteller.

How can I love the second book in the series, written in 23 days during November, and despise this book? Does it make sense to anyone?

First draft failure.

Plans derailed.

“Do I really have to start from scratch?” Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, someone should call the WHAAA-Ambulance.


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