I don’t like to tell other people how to write because I am no expert, but I can share my own personal experience with the process.
More than three quarters of the way through this manuscript, I went back and read a few chapters. This is a first rough draft, mind you, but I can see a tremendous amount of work in front of me.
I have a tendency to rush through TELLING you what my characters did or didn’t do. I want to spit the story out in a hurry rather than SHOWING the building of character presence.
I know a writer’s style can break the rules, and I am certain mine will. But there are some places you really can’t skimp and write effectively.
Which tells you most about these characters?
A) Brandi was dressing herself and applying fresh make-up as they spoke. A brunette wig would do for her plans for the day. Not too much make-up. Wearing a skin-tight, short tube skirt and a low slung sweater top, she set aside the heels in favor of her sneakers.
B) Brandi tugged on her hair at the mirror as they spoke. The braided black wig that she chose emphasized her African-American features, while her light coffee colored make-up delicately smoothed her Caucasian skin. A tight white tube skirt clung to an ample derrière and a low slung sweater top showed off both her heavy implanted breasts and small waist. She set aside her familiar stilettos in favor of more comfortable gym shoes to walk the streets today.
A) He had thick, dark hair and tough, tanned skin.
B) The Florida sun had not lightened his thick, dark hair, but had toasted and leathered his skin.
They don’t even seem like the same people to me. I have this vision in my mind of who these characters are, but conveying that to you properly is a challenge.
A) She held her nose. “You stink. You could use a shower. They have that right over here,” she said, pointing toward the pool area.
B) She turned her head, wrinkled her nose, and waved her hand in front of her face. “You smell like a chitlin boil dumped three days at the landfill! There’s soap and shampoo in the shower stalls outside by the pool.”
A) After fourteen flights of stairs he was exhausted and panting. He tried to hide behind a potted plant at the end of the hall.
B) After fourteen flights of stairs he was panting. He could barely walk the six feet to the end of the hall to hide behind a potted plant. His legs ached. His knees shook. Trying to stand up straight to conceal himself behind the foliage made the leaves tremble.
See what I mean? I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s fun work. But we’re a long way from finished with this. This could take months.
I know the right way to write. It’s just faster and easier to write the wrong way. But that’s what makes the first draft like sliding down the slide, riding the merry-go-round, swinging high through the tree limbs, wriggling your toes in the sandbox. It’s a literary playground.
I LOVE FIRST DRAFTS!
I was originally editing as I moved along and the writing process was dragging. I was getting frustrated. I feared I was going to give it up before I got the story out there. Lose it from my mind. I gave up the method instead.
Ask me how I feel about writing when it comes time to edit.