I haven’t written anything here for a while. A little over a month. Which, granted, is not nearly the longest I’ve gone without posting something to my blog.
I have been writing.
Just not here.
Several years ago (about 3, actually) I wrote a short story. I titled it “Drunk”. It’s about a man named Billy who was – you guessed it – drunk.
Well, I wrote that story, and a few people read it. Everyone that did read it said it wasn’t finished. What happens next? Where did Billy go in the end? You have to keep writing, they said.
So I did.
For a while. A very short while. I didn’t get far, I got stuck, and I stopped.
But then, a while ago. I read a quote from Terry Pratchett. It said “The first draft is simply you telling yourself the story.”
“The first draft is simply you telling yourself the story.”
It stuck with me (obviously), and I started thinking about all the stories I started but never finished. I started working more on one idea, fleshing out the characters, my ideas for the plot, etc…
But then my mind went back to Billy. And so I pulled up that story, and I started writing again. And writing and writing and writing. I wrote in the mornings. I wrote in the evenings. I wrote on the weekends.
It’s a rough (very rough) draft.
Too much detail about crap that doesn’t matter. Horribly awkward dialogue. The pace too slow when I should have sped things up, and rushed when I should have slowed down.
But that’s a first draft for you.
I took my short story of just over 4500 words to a slightly longer short story of just over 20,300 words. Quite easily the longest story I’ve ever written.
But it isn’t done yet. It’s at a stopping point, but more like the end of a chapter. Not the end of a book. In continuing the story, I realized that the story isn’t even really about Billy. It’s more likely about two other characters that just joined the narrative. Everything I’ve written is just the beginning.
So we come to my choice. Do I:
- Go back, start over, and write a 2nd draft of what I’ve already done?
- Continue writing my first draft?
Part of me really wants to go back and rewrite what I’ve written so far. Clean it up, polish it up, and turn it into an actual story.
But what if…
But what if I spend all that time writing the 2nd draft, then when I continue writing the rest of the story, the story shifts on me? What if things need to happen later in the story that change the beginning? What if I have to throw it all out and start over from scratch? What if the fundamental concepts of the world changes, and the beginning becomes obsolete?
With that in mind, it seems best to continue writing my 1st draft until I reach the end (the real end) of the story. Or at least what could be the end of a book. Because in the end, no story ever really ends.
I think about it, but never having written a book before, I’m just kinda making things up as I go along.
Whatever I decide, I’d like to thank my superlative wife for slogging through my first draft and giving me some excellent feedback. Not only did she confirm a few thoughts I had about what needed improving, but also pointed out several things I never realized were missing. Which is the whole point of getting a different point of view.
And even though stories never end, blog posts do.