From Our Archives: First Drafts

July 19, 2019 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , , , with 0 and 0
Home > Columns > On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen > From Our Archives: First Drafts

header image for A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen is deep into a manuscript and unable to come up for air. We’re helping her out by posting one of her articles from our archives. Hope you enjoy it.

 


 

Drafts | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of OrangeDrafts

 

I love quotes. I collect them, especially quotes about writing from writers I particularly respect. Since I work with writers of all levels from beginners to veterans, I find that sometimes the perfect quote from an established writer is exactly what I need to reinforce a point – so I use my collection well.

 

I just took on a new client who sent an outline for her first novel. The outline included a précis of the plot, quick character sketches, a few narrative bits on action scenes and several options for an ending. Buried in these concepts were the seeds of a very fresh new voice. I’m excited; it’s the kind of challenge I relish. It’s the perfect opportunity to ask the right questions, provide possibilities and help guide the story to a solid structure – all of which greases the writer’s creative wheels – the give and take nudging them to the path they want for their story.

 

Shitty First Drafts

 

The problem was the writer didn’t want to write a draft; she wanted to work with me to get the story full blown in her head then sit down at the keyboard and spit out a finished novel. Oh dear. I imagine there are writers who can do that but they’re as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker. As Anne Lamott put it in her essay, Shitty First Drafts: “I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” (TY Terry Pratchett.)

 

All first drafts suck. It’s a universal law. But it’s where you have to start. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” (TY Terry Pratchett.) So give yourself permission to just spill it, write the most vapid dialog ever if that’s what comes out. It’s OK – it’s a draft. Just get the story out. If you find yourself using more adjectives than Danielle Steele and Judith Krantz combined then this is the place to do it. It’s a draft -no one will ever see it (except me but that’s all right ‘cuz I’ll never tell). Stewart Stafford hit the bull’s eye, “It’s okay to write a cliché in a first draft; it sets a marker that you can get far, far away from in the rewrites.”

The Rewrites

 

That’s what a draft is for – the rewrites. Here’s where the painful process of filling the blank page becomes fun. You see the flaws and get to slash and revise, hear the perfect dialog over the noise of what you drafted, maybe see a new direction in the wreckage. I’ve encouraged my client to write a first draft. I’ll happily work with her from that, but I bet she goes over it first – who could resist? Draft one or draft two, I don’t care. I can’t wait to see it.

Jenny 

 

 

 

Author Bio
Author Bio
With a BA in Anthropology and English I pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. It was a great choice for me. I love the process of creating and am privileged to be part of that process for so many great voices — voices both seasoned and new. I’ve worked on nearly 400 books over 20 years, books by noted authors published by New York houses including Penguin, Kensington, Pentacle and Zebra as well as with Indie bestsellers and Amazon dynamos. From Air Force manuals and marketing materials to memoirs, thrillers, sci fi and romance, my services range from copyediting to developmental coaching. Having worked in advertising and marketing, I am always cognizant of the marketplace in which the author’s work will be seen. I coach for content and style with that knowledge in mind in order to maximize sales and/or educational potential. My objective is to help the author’s material stand out from an ever more crowded and competitive field.
  • Laughter Rx by Jenny Jensen

    I’d love to hear your humorous book suggestions. I’d especially like to read a romance that will make me laugh and sigh with satisfaction.

  • PORTMANTEAUS by Jenny Jensen

    We’re so lucky. The English language is like play dough.

    Oh yes, we have strict rules of grammar, tense, POV, all the way to the minutia of intransitive verbs.

  • Make Mine Slang by Jenny Jensen

    This character, Tall T Reynolds, is growing in my mind. I can see him tanned and raw and a bit dusty. I know his world is the 1940’s rural west and I know he’s going to briefly meet Lottie, a beautiful girl in a gleaming open topped coupe. Their brief exchange will never leave his mind. Soon after, Tall T will go off to war in Europe. He and Lottie will meet again in a most unexpected way.

  • Why Do I Love Ranger? by Jenny Jensen

    Currently working with a writer on the development of a new series. Book One has to really grip the audience if the series stands a chance.

  • Short and sweet…and funny by Jenny Jensen

    I love Dickens. I really do; the man could use 400 words to describe something that needs maybe five and never miss a beat, never lose a reader’s interest – like spotting all the little details in a medieval tapestry.

Mar 29, 2021
The Extra Squeeze Team loves book. So, we're going to hold a book club on A Slice of Orange, and we want to hear from YOU. The post The Extra Squeeze Book Club appeared first on A Slice of Orange.
Mar 21, 2021
The Extra Squeeze Team loves book. So, we're going to hold a book club on A Slice of Orange, and we want to hear from YOU. The post The Extra Squeeze Book Club appeared first on A Slice of Orange.
Mar 14, 2021
The Extra Squeeze Team loves book. So, we're going to hold a book club on A Slice of Orange, and we want to hear from YOU. The post The Extra Squeeze Book Club appeared first on A Slice of Orange.
Mar 7, 2021
The Extra Squeeze Team loves book. So, we're going to hold a book club on A Slice of Orange, and we want to hear from YOU. The post Book Club appeared first on A Slice of Orange.
Mar 1, 2021
The Extra Squeeze Team loves book. So, we're going to hold a book club on A Slice of Orange, and we want to hear from YOU. The post The Extra Squeeze Book Club appeared first on A Slice of Orange.
×
With a BA in Anthropology and English I pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. It was a great choice for me. I love the process of creating and am privileged to be part of that process for so many great voices — voices both seasoned and new. I’ve worked on nearly 400 books over 20 years, books by noted authors published by New York houses including Penguin, Kensington, Pentacle and Zebra as well as with Indie bestsellers and Amazon dynamos. From Air Force manuals and marketing materials to memoirs, thrillers, sci fi and romance, my services range from copyediting to developmental coaching. Having worked in advertising and marketing, I am always cognizant of the marketplace in which the author’s work will be seen. I coach for content and style with that knowledge in mind in order to maximize sales and/or educational potential. My objective is to help the author’s material stand out from an ever more crowded and competitive field.
Latest Posts
  • Portmanteau | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM

>