It's Friday Q&A time again, and this month, I'm asking the Luckies, Which do you prefer – first drafting or revising?
Ryan Graudin says, 'A year ago, I would have said first drafting. Hands down. But that was before I really, truly pushed myself into the limits of revising and discovered the results. I used to love how everything was possible in rough drafting and the freedom in that. And while I do still love it to some extent, I've found myself growing frustrated at the incompleteness I feel when I'm rough drafting. I love the stage of revising when things finally start pulling together and making sense and the work becomes the sum of its parts! Revising--I never thought I would say this--but you have won me over!'
Lydia Kang adores the first draft process. Everything is so shiny and new! You get to see your imagination realized in words for the first time. It's pretty magical.
And Helen Douglas? Revising. First drafts are often so weak and disappointing. She likes the process of reflecting and finding ways to make it work better.
'Revising, no question!' says Peggy Eddleman. 'I love how everything becomes more complete and layered and interesting and well-paced and REAL. I love the process of polishing something that's so rough and weak, and seeing how strong and shiny it becomes.'
Cat Winters agrees: 'Revising! I love fixing, beautifying, and perfecting everything.'
But Kelly Barson dares to be different. For her, it's the first draft. She loves discovering her story and meeting new characters. It's always surprising, because once the story takes shape, it has a life of its own--beyond what she imagined.
Caroline Carlson likes both for different reasons. 'Writing a first draft is usually either blissful or agonizing--sometimes both in the same day. Revising, for me, is a more analytical process, and while it's often less exciting than drafting, it can also be a nice way to recover from the emotional rollercoaster of the first draft.'
Amie Kaufman also flies the first draft flag: 'While I do love that wonderful feeling of knowing that your revisions just made your story deeper and better, there's something about the drafting process... just me and my keyboard, words flying in every direction. Everything's possible at that moment.'
Kit Grindstaff is a revising fan. She LOVES the magical first draft excitement of seeing ideas materialize on the page, but HATES when she's stuck (like now). That gives her pre-work dread, whereas revising brings far more pre-work Yesss! moments. Plus, it also brings its own magic of new ideas, new layers, which can border on revelation. So that's her winner.
'Oh my goodness, revising,' says C. J. Flood. 'The first draft is so hard. Though it is lovely to come back to plain old writing when you've been revising and editing and copyediting and proofreading a book for months, and it's all finished. It seems unbelievably delightful then, I can't believe my luck. I think, What I can just write anything? I can totally make this up? Amazing.'
Tamera Will Wissinger's response is in homage to Destiny's Child:
'I’m a reviser / I’m not gonna give up / I’m not gonna stop / I’m gonna write harder.
I’m a reviser / I’m gonna make it / I will revise / Keep on revising!
C’mon, sing it with me – you know you want to!'
Nicole McInnes adores the sense of pure possibility that infuses a first draft. Stuck on an idea? Try a new one! Sentence structure messy? Oh, well. That's what revision is for! It's messy, creative bliss.
Christina Farley agrees. ' I love the thrill of the first draft. Can I really write this book? How will it all come together? It's the mystery, the unknown and the anticipation of what will happen.'
But Amy Christine Parker loves revising, when she know what the plot, world, and characters are and the story becomes like a drawstring purse and all she has to do is pull the strings and close it up tight.
Imogen Howson often says 'I'm a bad writer but a good editor. For me, it's only when I come back to the first draft that I think, "Oh, I'm actually okay at this." While I'm actually writing the book, I mostly think that it's bad and I'm bad and that I've forgotten how to write.'
And me? Revising, every time. I'm such a perfectionist that writing a first draft, knowing how thin and crappy it's going to be, is really hard!
How about you? Which do you prefer, and why? Tell us in the comments below!
Emma Pass grew up at an environmental studies centre near London, went to art school in Cornwall and now lives in the North-East Midlands, UK, with her artist husband. For 3 wonderful years she was lucky enough to share her life with The Hound, too (that's him in the picture). She is represented by Carolyn Whitaker at London Independent Books and her YA dystopian thriller ACID is out from Corgi/Random House on 2nd May 2013. You can find her blog here, view her website here and catch her procrastinating on Twitter here.