Let's Talk Editing: Is Your First Draft Totally Useless?

     The Let's Talk Editing series is back! I realized it'd been ages since I'd written a post for Let's Talk Editing, and with me slowing sinking back into edits for Draped in Deception, we've ended up with the next installment! If you're interested in the other posts on setting and first chapters, you can click here and here

     Today's topic, and something I've been thinking about a lot recently, is, is a first draft totally useless?



     When writers mention the words 'first' and 'draft' together, you will definitely get some screwed up faces and winces. First drafts are imperfect, gaping with plot holes, and the POV's voices run together into an indistinguishable mess. NO ONE sees the first draft except the writer. 

     The purpose of editing is to fill those holes, clarify characters, and polish the thing till its shine is blinding, right? So once you've moved past cleaning up the first draft, and you're on your third or fifteenth draft, why should you ever return to it?

     Well, you should.

     And here's why: if your final draft is a cut, polished, and sparkling diamond, then that makes your first draft a gem hidden behind rocks and blemishes. You must have seen something in it to take the time and effort to transform a hunk of mineral into a glimmering necklace.


     A few weeks ago I was squinting at my computer screen which held an attempt at planning my massive rewrites of Draped in Deception. I was majorly stuck on how I was going to show a character's change now that the main instigator of it was cut out (as a result of me scrapping the ending third of my novel). As my mind often does, it started to wander down its little creative path while I went off to do some unfortunate life responsibility.

    Then: Aha! My mind brought up a key world-building element I had all but forgotten in the second draft, but in my first draft, it was a huge part of showing my characters' a different side to their world. Now, I know this sounds sort of vague, but I can't go around letting you know all the spoilers can I?

    What I'm trying to get at here is that don't forget about your first draft the deeper you delve into editing. Remember that the first draft is raw, and honest, and true to themes that poured from your heart. It has both good and bad elements. When you return to it ignore the plot holes and look to its core. You wouldn't forget about the diamond underneath all the grit when you were polishing it, would you?

    So when you're stuck in your edits, go back, and take inspiration from the rough gem it is, because no, your first draft is not totally useless. It may need a little or a lot of work, but it is beautiful, because it's raw, and because you wrote it.
   


Have you ever returned to your first draft for inspiration? Do your edits stick close to your first drafts or do you go waaay away from them? How's your writing going?
Let me know in the comments, and have a wonderful day! <3

Comments

  1. I definitely go to discarded story ideas or characters for inspiration!

    My writing is....unwell. I was going to have draft #1 of my steampunk vs. fairyland novel done last week, but then finals season happened and I decided to cut out one of my main characters. So it's coming along, and a clear end is in sight, but there's still a lot of work to do.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Finals always seem to interfere with writing don't they? Ugh I wish they didn't exist. Keep going though! I believe in you. :) Thanks so much for commenting Ellie! XD

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  2. You know, I tend to abandon my first drafts and never look at them again. (unless I want to go back and have a good cringy stroll through memory lane) But at the same time, while editing Sparrow Singing I've stayed pretty close to it's original nature... kinda. (This is a good and bad thing XD)

    But I totally appreciate what you said about first drafts being raw, true and honest! My NaNo 2016 was so stinking raw and honest about the themes I tied in... probably too honest, but still. It's a first draft. ;)

    My writing has gone not well lately. It's so hard to write without all the NaNo pressure. *sigh*

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    1. Haha they can be a little cringy at times. XD Thank you Jeneca! :) I love first drafts because of how honest they are, and even if I have to tone that down in the next few drafts, I always love looking back on the honesty. Aw I'm sorry it's not going too well. Perhaps setting yourself deadlines will give you a bit of that NaNo pressure back? Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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  3. Oh my goodness *hugs* You just sent me into so much inspiration like I DON'T KNOW IF MY WORDS ARE MAKING SENSE RIGHT NOW BUT THANK YOU. THAT'S THE IMPORTANT THING. THANK YOU FOR THIS. *runs off to try to organize new brain thoughts*

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    1. Awww I am so happy! <3 *hugs hard* I'm so so glad this was inspiring for you (a little in return for all that you've given me on your blog). :) Thanks so much for commenting and good luck with your writing!

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  4. THIS WAS SUCH A WONDERFUL POST AND I LOVED IT MELISSA <3 <3 I haven't even completed my first draft, but agree with everything you said. Polishing is the keen element, and really, without the first draft, we won't be able to polish it!
    Prabhleen @ Booksarelife987

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    1. Thank you so much Prabhleen! <3 Yup, it might take a while to polish the first draft, but without it we wouldn't have the story in the first place, and would have nothing to improve on. Best of luck completing your first draft and thanks for commenting! :D

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  5. Wow that's actually something I'd never thought of!! I'm nearly kind of opposite though... XD My first drafts just have the basic IDEA down and then I actually get the heart of the story into draft2. So my firstdrafts are rarely inspiring. Although sometimes some epic thoughts I'll have written in the outline will come back to me and get me out of a plot hole!!

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    1. I love how writers all have different processes! XD That's a great description of how those aha moments come about: 'epic thoughts', because that's what they are! As well as being life and plot savers... Thanks so much for commenting! :)

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