first draft lessons
March 31, 2017
This week I worked on a really important scene in the new book. The denouement of the mystery, where all is revealed, to astonishment and horror. I laid it all out.
And it was all wrong.
But see, it’s actually really good that it was all wrong. Until I’d actually written it down, until it was on the page staring back at me, I didn’t realize that the scene wasn’t dynamic, that it was mostly talking heads, that it wasn’t realistic to how people would behave in that situation. It’s the old problem: I have to get this information to the reader somehow. So how do I do that in a way that’s exciting and engaging?
By writing out the wrong version, I saw exactly what it was missing and how I needed to fix it. I hadn’t, before.
I think sometimes writers get stuck because we’re afraid of being wrong, of writing scenes that don’t work. It would be wonderful to write everything perfect the first time, wouldn’t it? If you know something isn’t right, why write it wrong the first time?
Because being wrong can maybe show you what “right” looks like, if you didn’t quite know before.
So yeah, I spent this week completely re-writing scenes I’d already written. And it was great.