Monday, May 8, 2017

Fast and Furious: Write that First Draft!

I recently watched two movies in The Fast and the Furious franchise and it got me thinking about writing the first draft of a book.


I admit: I am late to The Fast and the Furious World, just like I'm late to the world of fast drafting.

The movie franchise expects three things from its viewers:

  • a suspension of belief
  • for us to believe these characters will do anything for each other because they are family
  • that everyone understands this is thrilling fun, and no, they are not racing (get the pun?) towards the Oscars.

But here's the thing. These movies deliver on all three things, and often while delivering quite wooden dialogue and confusing twists.

Considering the series has earned $5 billion to date, they may be on to something.

Early in my writing career, I would fuss over every single word and image in my first draft. I was slow as molasses, would get muddled in the middle, write myself into corners and keep trying to fix things as I went along.

It was a sure-fire recipe for taking months to write that first draft.

And it didn't make the first draft any better. I still had to do multiple revisions and cuts.

Perhaps I ought to have learned after doing my first NanNoWriMo, but I didn't. I continued to clean up along the way and continued to be frustrated by how long it took me to come up with a decent book.

And then I discovered fast drafting. And it changed my life.

Now when I write, I spend several weeks plotting, doing character development, doing a rough outline. And then I write - FAST.


I don't look back. I'm Vin Diesel, keeping my eyes on the road. I don't worry about the carnage in my wake; that's for somebody else to clean up later. (Myself in the role of special effects maestro)

I trust I will be able to make something out this  - see suspension of belief above.

I know my characters will come through for me in the revisions, although some of them may end up in fiery car crashes...

I have fun.

I don't second-guess.

I don't worry about imagery (unless something pops into my head) or making things beautiful.

Heck I don't even worry much about grammar.

I just get the story down, print it off, and like a good car mechanic, take it all apart and decide what parts are essential and what parts are missing in order for me to get the car on the road.

I can usually fast draft a book in less than a month now. The work comes in revisions (see Stefanie Wass' excellent post on revising here and Shari Green's equally helpful one here)

The first few times you try this it may seem wrong, because you are essentially allowing some awful clunky stuff to stay on the page, but for those of you who are too precious with your words from day one, it might be a great way to move your writing forward!

It's all about getting to the first THE END, then making it the best it can be. 

And then you can drive away into the sunset...


Jamie Krakover said...

I always admire people that can fast draft. I wish I could just shut off my internal editor but alas... it is very loud! Plus I need time to let the plot stew. I guess more up front outlining helps, but I typically can only outline 1/3 to 1/4 of a book then start writing and the rest takes shape as I go.

I always find the different ways people tackle writing fascinating. Thanks for sharing Wendy!

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

I think you are right, Jamie! And I do stew a LONG time before I actually fast draft, I just turn off my editor during the first draft, which is WAY easier said than done!

Unknown said...

Great advice! Revision is the time for polishing. Thanks for the shout-out on my revision post! :)

cleemckenzie said...

Stewing is part of my process. Talking to myself and looking the fool when I'm caught is another part. It takes me a while to actually put words down!

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

i have it printed out for ongoing use!

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

ha! I talk to myself in the car ALL the time! I work out plot points there all the time!