Tag Archives: Draft

I love it… Kill it!

...and if it doesn't come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

…and if it doesn’t come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

photo credit: admitchell08 via photopin cc

Writing, like any art, is a time consuming labor of love. When wrapped up in such a massive personal investment, it is easy to forget that the entire act of creation is optional; that sometimes the best way to FINISH the project is to simply stop creating…

>START GAME

Garage
You are in a garage that has been converted to a recreational room. Arcade machines and scrapbooking items line the north and south walls. Outdoor carpeting on the floor and a stash of booze in the corner display case will keep you from freezing. A table in the middle of the room is set up with all the implements of an aspiring author. In the corner of the room there is a door to the outside world and another that leads back inside the house.
There is a laptop here.

>SCREAM
You emit a hearty battle cry to the Gods of creativity.

>TURN ON LAPTOP
The system clicks and blinks to life.
Laptop: “Good day, writer! Are you ready to craft glorious fiction!?”

>NO, NOT REALLY
Laptop: “Sorry to hear! You’re so close to being done!”

>FINISH WIP
You’ll have to write something new. Your WIP deadline has passed.

>INV
You are carrying:
a wallet
a deadline
a table of contents

>LOOK AT DEADLINE
Accordingly to this 4th deadline, your beta readers expected your novel draft last week.

>ENTER DOOR
(which door, the door to the house or the door leading outside?)

>OUTSIDE

Outside the House
You are just outside the garage side entrance door. It is pitch black out here in the moonless night. You are likely to be abducted by aliens.
There is a trash can here
There is a recycling bin here

>RECYCLE DEADLINE
Like a used water bottle, the deadline comes back in a new form and with an improved ‘use by’ date.

>ENTER HOUSE

Garage
There is a laptop here

>WRITE
How much would you like to write?

>ALL OF THE REST
Don’t be ridiculous. That’s too much at once.

>WRITE SOME FICTION
You’ll have to be more specific. Better check the log.

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapters 9, 28, and 37 are highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 9?
Chapter 9 of your WIP is an engaging display of fancy description and brilliant yet directionless dialogue as you currently fail to enamor your reader to your new characters.

>FIX CHAPTER 9
Your heroine and bit characters glare at you in confused response.

>ADD A PERSONAL TRAGEDY TO CHAPTER 9
Done.
(+13 to backstory)

>ADD A DIARY TO CHAPTER 9
Done. A sense of balance and peace settles over the characters inside this chapter.
(+9 to structure. Your novel is now passable.)

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 37?
Chapter 37 is a gripping episode in which action overshadows form and unanswered questions are left brutally unanswered.

>FIX CHAPTER 37
Your hero and antagonist look up mid-grapple and await clearer instruction.

>ADD FIRM ANSWERS TO CHAPTER 37
Done. The opposing parties finish their brawl and sigh with satisfied relief.
(+23 to closure. Your novel is looking quite good.)

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapter 28 is highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 28?
Chapter 28 of your WIP is a fine example of classic American fiction in which characters are stuck in a romantic tangle with muted fire and nary a resolution in sight.

>ADD ROMANCE TO CHAPTER 28
You sprinkle in cupids and hearts to little effect.
(+1 to romance. -5 to clarity.)

>ADD PASSIONATE KISSING TO CHAPTER 28
Your characters fall into a rousing embrace. Events in Chapters 18 and 33 no longer make any sense.
(+53 to reader confusion. Your novel has issues once again.)

>REMOVE KISSING
Done. All kissing has been swept from the book.
(-123 to gender sensitivity)

>UNDO
All kissing restored.
(+123 to gender sensitivity)

>REMOVE KISSING FROM CHAPTER 28 AND HELP?
Done. Perhaps you can try a more subtle, background approach.

>ADD BONDAGE SWING TO CHAPTER 28
That didn’t qualify as subtle.
(+32 to kinkiness. -60 to continuity. -20 to tone.)
Your noble hero character looks nervous.
Due to poor structure, a flock of rogue chickens has entered the room.

>ADD WHISPERED SECRETS TO CHAPTER 28
Your hero mouths dark truths to the pecking chickens. Your heroine is in the corner, tentatively spinning the bondage swing with one curious finger.
(-90 to continuity. -130 to tone.)
Your main antagonist has entered the room. A braying donkey has entered the room.

>REMOVE ANTAGONIST
The braying donkey is too distracting to the text for you to make that update. The antagonist saunters into the corner to inspect the bondage swing along with a now quite interested young heroine. You appear to be losing control of the novel.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now bad literary comedy.)

>REMOVE DONKEY
The donkey resists your efforts with a flurry of kicks. Your hero is struck in the gonads and falls to the ground, mortally wounded. The antagonist sweeps the heroine off her feet and leaps onto the donkey to make his getaway.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now a fictional cesspool.)

>KILL CHAPTER 28
Your characters, human and animal alike, freeze in mid-step and pivot their fearful stares in your direction.
(What do you want to kill chapter 28 with?)

>WITH LAPTOP
Laptop: “Oh sure, make ME the bad guy.”
With a series of torturous clicks, the deceased hero, the sordid heroine, the suave antagonist, the pile of animals, and all the miserable rest of chapter 28 cease to exist.
(+675 to structure, +102 to tension, +50 to tone.)

*** Winner! You have finished your first draft! ***

Of course that’s all much easier said than done… I’ve been stuck on the same nasty ol’ chapters for a few months now. How long does everyone else give a troublesome section before it’s off to the circular file?

The First Draft Dilemma

Fear the WEES - The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

Fear the WEES – The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

A first draft is merely a starting place. Whether it becomes the start of something wondrous or the start of a lingering nightmare is entirely up to you… and, of course, the W.E.E.S.

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>VERBOSE
Maximum Verbosity.

>FINISH FIRST DRAFT
It’s never that easy.

>WRITE
A line appears on the horizon. It speeds toward you in a blur of grey and brown, creating a hard concrete surface beneath your feet. Dingy walls rise up along all sides and a domed roof appears overhead.

>WRITE
Details fill out around you, subtle color blends, glistering slime molds, pungent smells and flickers of light from dying bulbs and cracks in the glass above.
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>LOOK

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES standing here, waiting.

>WHAT IS A WEES
The Wizened Elves of Errant Syntax are mythological creatures renowned for their sensitivity to both poor grammar and errors in frequency. In olden times they were retained by kings and heads of state to ensure that diplomatic affairs were conducted in only the most formal and proper of etiquette. The WEES faded from human society after one too many monarchs were devoured whole after uttering, ‘Um…’.

LOOK AT WEES
>The ancient creature has cracked grey skin, covered with the dust of a billion shredded pages. His pointy ears turn your way and he studies you with eyes sharp as fireballs.

>INV
You are carrying:
a thesaurus

>SHOW THESAURUS TO WEES
The WEES claps his hands together and bows reverently.

>WRITE
A homeless man that reeks of fetid dingo’s kidneys appears, laying slumped against a wall.
The WEES wrings his hands and stomps his foot, shaking the ground. “Been done!” he shouts, pointing to the west.

>WEST
Ch.8 – Hotel Ballroom
You are in an elegant ballroom covered in gold drapes and dazzling crystal. A sixteen piece band sets the mood from atop a stage on the north wall. Debutantes and gentlemen in top hats mill about, brushing elbows among high society. There is a Chapter Seven to the west and a Chapter Nine to the east.
Earl, your stock broker, is leaning against the bar.

>LOOK AT EARL
Earl, in his rumpled brown suit, stands out amid the fancy setting like a heap of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>EAST

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES here, leaning on a gnarled walking stick and wearing a smug grin.
There is a homeless man here, reeking of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>ERASE KIDNEYS
The homeless man smells much better now.
The WEES nods in appreciation.

>WRITE IN PEAT MOSS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “WRITE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t know the phrase “IN PEAT MOSS”.

>CREATE PEAT MOSS FOR THE HOMELESS MAN
The homeless man now carries the odor of an old highland bog.

>CREATE RATS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “CREATE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t understand “RATS”.

>CONJURE RATS
Soft squeaks and the skitter of small claws add to the ambiance.

>CRAFT A COLD WIND
The homeless man shivers.

>HELP WITH NEW WORDS
This is your dream, help yourself.

>MAKE A CAREFUL FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
Your main character will now pause for introspection about his ex-wife and Earl the stock broker, while avoiding of the words KIDNEYS, WRITE, PEAT MOSS, CREATE, RATS, CONJURE, CRAFT, COLD or WIND.

>LOOK
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and disallows your last request.

>USE THESAURUS
You’ll have to be more specific.

>EAST
You can’t enter chapter 10 until you flesh out more of chapter 9.

>WEST
The WEES smashes you on the knee, having seen you do that already.
The WEES notices that you used the word “MAN” again somewhere in your recent flashback sequence. He gobbles the sequence down with a fierce gnashing of teeth.

>KILL WEES
(with the thesaurus)
You hurl the hardbound copy at the WEES. He catches it in mid-air and thumbs through the pages.
The WEES scans the room and screams, “Cliche!” He waves his stick and the room trembles from his wrath. Some items are no longer here.

>DESCRIBE THE ROOM

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. There are no surviving details here. There are no exits here, as you cannot proceed without completing this chapter.
There is a vicious looking WEES here, wielding a gnarled walking stick.
You sense a lethargic disinterest is lurking close by.

>RESTART

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>WAIT
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>WAIT
“No!” shouts the WEES. “Just said that!”
The WEES waves his gnarled walking stick and blinks, confused. There is nothing to edit out yet.

>WEES, THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT
The WEES turns a brilliant shade of persimmon. “Whoops! Sorry, mate! Be redundant at will,” he says and then vanishes in a puff of white smoke.
A small card falls to the ground.

>READ CARD
“Erika Marks has an excellent post on battling a first draft. Enjoy it at: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com

>WRITE
Ok.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc