In one of my Q&A posts, I mentioned that I prefer revising to writing a first draft. Many readers shared their preference in their comments, and it was just as I suspected: nearly 2 to 1 prefer writing the first draft to revising (10 to 6, to be precise).
Here are some of your comments:
Old Kitty says: "I'm in full flow and loving the first draft because I don't have to worry too much about grammar and such"
Joanne at Whole Latte Life says: "I prefer revising. To me, that's when the story really gets layered, the revision process giving me an opportunity to add depth to the more rough first draft."
Jai Joshi says: "Nothing ever compares to the magic of the first draft to me, although there is a certain satisfaction in revising and polishing the manuscript to a high shine."
Julie Musil says: "It's not that I don't like the first draft, but I love it once I have something to mold."
Vicki Rochco says: "You've got the magic of the story unfolding with the first draft...but the revisions REALLY pull it together and make it sparkle."
Lisa at Leaving Nadir says: "I like the rawness of the first draft. It can go anywhere your characters want it to go. Revision is also fun in its own way as you can eliminate that which doesn't move the story along."
Myrna Foster says: "I love and hate both first drafting and revising, but revising is probably my favorite because you still get to write shiny new bits to replace those not so shiny parts."
Jennifer Shirk says: "I revise as I write. So I may write a chapter one week then spend another week revising it before moving on. It takes me awhile to write that way but at the end my book is pretty clean and ready for a beta read."
And, as DL Hammons so eloquently puts it: "Rough drafts are way more fun!! WAY!!!!"
For me, I think of first drafting and revising as two completely different processes, and I love them both. I used to prefer first drafts, but lately it seems so difficult to pull those words out of thin air, to create something out of nothing. As Julie Musil said, I really love having something to mold.
On the other hand, it's nice to write without worrying about how it sounds, knowing that I probably won't keep those exact words anyway. When I write a first draft, I give myself permission to write anything down, no matter how awful it may be. I figure I can always go back and edit it out later. The funny thing is, when I go back, I usually find it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was and I end up keeping a lot of it (though I throw a lot of it out, as well!)
Thanks to all my commenters for weighing in on this subject. If you haven't already told me, do you prefer first drafts or revisions, and why? And, even more pressing, have you finished your Christmas shopping???
Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.
There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them. Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.
Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.
But it’s not.
Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.
Why I liked it:
Voice. Jack's voice is so utterly readable, it drew me in from the first sentence and wouldn't let go. His voice is so vivid, I felt like I knew him. And I had to keep turning the pages to find out if he was going to be okay.
Suspense. So many questions arose as I read this book, questions I just had to have answered. And because Jack's been through a recent trauma and he fears he's losing his mind, I didn't even know if I could trust those answers. But Smith wrapped everything up by the end, so I didn't feel compelled to throw the book against the wall when I finished it. :)
Originality. This is unlike any book I've ever read. I loved the unreliable narrator, the fantasy world of Marbury, the sometimes brutal reality of a teenage boy, the relationships between the extremely well-drawn characters, and the list goes on and on. In a word: Bravo!
Warning: This book is YA, but it has more adult themes than other YA I've read.
I won this ARC on Michelle Hodkin's blog. I had every intention of reviewing it before its November 2 release date. Obviously that didn't happen - sorry! Better late than never, right? And now when you feel like you just gotta have this book, you won't even have to wait to get it. :)
When Billy Harriman's dad dies in a plane accident, Billy finds himself developing new powers -superhuman powers - he cannot explain. A family friend and a mysterious stranger both try to guide Billy, and he doesn't know who to trust. With the help of his best friend, Kate, Billy sets out to solve the mystery of his father's death and discover the source of his strange new powers.
Why I liked it:
The first thing I liked about this book is that its main character is a fourteen-year-old boy. I read to my children (ages 14, 13, and 10) before they go to bed most nights, and this was one book we could all agree on (a difficult feat, I assure you). That's also the reason my review is so late, but that's another story.
Maybe I've just read too much YA, but I found the innocence in this book refreshing. Billy and Kate are likable characters I enjoyed spending time with. The action kept moving and suspense grew throughout the book. A big surprise at the end added to the fun. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that kept my kids begging for "one more chapter."
Okay, you've got to be sick of this by now, but good news! Today I'm wrapping up my Q&A series with a final post on writing questions. Thanks to everyone who participated - I loved answering your questions and reading your answers in the comments!
Q - Susan R. Mills asks: How many novels have you written and how long does it take you to knock one out?
A - I'm currently working on my third novel. The first was a mid-grade ghost story which I did submit to agents, but it was my first novel and now I can see that it needs a lot of work I'm not willing to put into it at this point. The second was a YA epic fantasy, In the Seventeenth Year, which I still love. I submitted it to a publisher who kept it for a year before rejecting it (though they did provide a detailed critique which was muuccchh appreciated!) But by the time they rejected it, I was all involved with my current wip, so Seventeenth Year is sitting on the shelf, waiting to be polished up and sent out again. My third novel, a time travel romance called Killing Kessler, is finally nearing the query stage! I'm hoping to have it ready to go shortly after the new year.
I typically spend a month outlining, maybe six months or so on the rough draft, and a good year revising. I'm hoping to tighten that up as I grow as a writer and hopefully my manuscripts won't require so much revision. :)
Q - Myrna Foster asks: What are you writing or revising right now?
A - I'm revising my time travel romance, Killing Kessler. I hope to have it ready to query shortly after the new year. I guess I'll have to wait and see what my lovely CPs have to say before I know how much more work it's going to need.
Q - Robyn Campbell asks: How long do you typically spend on revisions? Which do you like more? First drafts or revisions?
A - I first sent Killing Kessler out to CPs last Christmas, then again at the beginning of the summer, and I'm hoping to send it out one final time this Christmas. So that's about a year of revision. I love both processes, but I definitely prefer revising to writing a first draft.
How about you? Do you prefer rough drafts or revising? How long does it take you to write a novel? How long do you spend on revisions? What are you writing or revising right now?
That's it for me, folks! I think I've answered them all, so if I missed your question please let me know in the comments and I'll answer it in a future post.
Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.
No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at www.talliroland.com.
About THE HATING GAME:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?