Sunday, July 29, 2018

First Drafts

Lately, I've been going to physical therapy, hoping to improve my weak leg which is a remnant of my botched hip replacement surgery, and have been inundated with knowledge about my muscles, tissues and skeleton. And when I'm not in PT, I'm drafting the next book in my Flower Girl series. So, of course, I had to connect the dots.

Writing a first draft is similar to creating a skeleton for your story to hang on. It's certainly not complete until you add in the details, but you need a sturdy skeleton, or the story won't hold together. You start with the basics, the big bones, as it were. Femur, tibia, fibula, ulna, radius. You get the idea. These are the building blocks of your story–the ones that make the story have legs to stand on and arms to wrap around the reader. Eventually, you can add in the smaller bones–the fingers, toes, inner ear bones. These are the other parts of the story that give depth and tone–secondary characters, scents associated with the main characters, the lilt of a Scottish accent or the harshness of a shrew.

Many writers think they're done after they put their draft together. After all, it's a big chore to get an idea from start to finish. I agree that it's a monumental feat, and something that more people fail at than succeed. But in order to finish the book, you need to add to the skeleton. To flesh it out, as it were. By adding muscle, tissue and skin, you build tension, softness and grit into the story. That first draft gets rounded into shape and becomes a total package which you can then present to the world.

I'm rounding the corner on the PT–one more week before a decision is made whether to continue with it or to accept that it is what it is. And I'm rounding the corner on Remembering Iris. The skeleton is nearly complete, but I already know I will continue to pound it into shape and not accept it in its current state. It needs tissue, muscle and more grit. I need to add in the senses, show more emotion, dig deep into POV, flesh out the secondary characters, add more drama. All that comes during the second and third drafts. I might show it to my agent after the third run-through, or decide I need one more run at it. Regardless, I'm sure she'll have ideas on how to add more to it–put some polish on the nails, add some lipstick or blush.

Regardless of how many times I change things around, I know that by starting with a sturdy skeleton, I can bulk up the story without having it crater into a pile of miscellaneous parts.

I'm hoping to have the same results with my body.

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