Tag Archives: rough drafts

Writing to the End: Completion is the Battle

I’ve been helping Dear Daughter with her speech.  She picked a doozy.  A heated, biased, controversial topic for her original oratory.  One category that cannot portray the depth of her feelings or expose her own personal beliefs.  In short, it’s been nearly impossible to pen.

DD has great ideas.  She has a fabulous outline.  She has snippets of stories and supporting facts.  What she doesn’t have is a cohesive first draft.

Completion of this rough draft isn’t half the battle.  It is the full battle.  Without a complete rough draft, she has nothing to edit.  Despite the fact that her idea is compelling and seemingly amazing in its envisioned entirety, she will never succeed in competition until she gets it all down on paper.

Guess what, writers?  Our rough drafts are no different.  Every day, I have more ideas fall out of my ears than stray fur falls off Sock Dog.  Though I could take a picture for illustration’s sake, you’ll have to believe me when I say the amount is unreasonable and bordering on grotesque.  Every day, I have amazing ideas and compelling characters, yet until I can wrangle them into a cohesive story, the sheer magnificence of their existence is meaningless.

Tape this to your computer.  Completion is the battle.

It doesn’t matter how poorly you fight, you will never win the publishing war if you quit midscript.

What tips do you have for completing your novels?  What do you do when your writing stalls/writer’s block hits/your muse defects?  How do you ensure that those great ideas get written from beginning to end?

Personally, I fire my Inner Editor during rough draft writing.  I give myself permission to insert notes wherever I am regardless of where they fit into the story.  I encourage myself to gloss over sections with the briefest of mentions to transition me from one scene to the next.  This has done wonders for my sense of peace and my over-all ability to create complete rough drafts.



Yesterday I pulled out the second WIP starring my favorite pirate family.  I have a total of thirteen book ideas for my chapter book series.  Currently, I’m shopping around the first and only finished book.

I’ve never felt compelled to write a series or a trilogy or any sort of companion books in the past.  My middle grade and YA novels all stand alone. 

In part, this is because the stories have reached the end by the time I type those words on the last page.  There is no need for further commentary.  No compelling adventures left to unfold.

Yet both my chapter books could go on.  And, in the world of publishing, really should. 

Chapter books is one of the few genres where it is desirable to add subsequent stories.  Kids get hooked at just the right age to read about their same favorite characters in a wide variety of adventures. 

Junie B. Jones.  Magic Tree House.  Jigsaw Jones.  Diary of a Whimpy Kid.

Chapter books are not lucrative by anybody’s standards.  But they do serve a noble purpose for kids.  They tap into the unconditional love that kids have for their passion of the moment.  If we are lucky, that passionate moment happens to be ours.

Now, I love my first book in the “series”.  I thought I loved the second book, as well.  However, I had to laugh when I pulled out the half finished WIP for the first time in almost a year. 

It was Ugh-ly.  With a capital U.

I think I’ve forgotten how truly horrible first drafts can be.  It had more spelling errors, typos and grammar mishaps than should be legal in a WIP.  For just one second, I felt compelled to fix everything as I read.  Then I stopped myself.

Rough drafts are supposed to be ugly.  They are imperfect by nature.  Yet at the same time, they are more perfect than we can ever imagine.  For they are the culmination of our passionate moments as writers.  They hold a certain magic that can never be duplicated.

I have held back on finishing this second book because I didn’t want to waste my time writing all thirteen adventures only to find out the first book would never see the light of a bookstore. 

But, the itch to finish the second one is strong right now.  I actually added an extra 1,700 words to it last night.  Already I am looking forward to editing.  I can’t wait to turn something this Ugh-ly into something readable. 

Such is the joy of writing.

How bad are your rough drafts?  Do you cringe when you reread them?  Or, do you edit as you go?  Can you feel the magic in those first, imperfect sentences and know that something beautiful is waiting to get teased from the tangled mess?

Are you a series writer?  If so, why and what genre do you write for?