Short Story - First Draft Done!

The short story I was working on, secret project “LS”, is done.  Well, done as in the first draft is done, and it’s with two beta readers.  I should hear back from them at some point over the weekend.  I hope.  I’m very antsy about it.

A few notes on how I wrote it, and what I learned from the experience:

  • I used a checklist to track all the things that I needed to tell the reader.  It was a working list, and as I found things to add I added them.  I found this really, really helpful in planning scene-to-scene.
  • This is the first time that the final conflict clicked with me.  Now that doesn’t mean it didn’t need revisions, and doesn’t need more revisions, but it was as if all the parts clicked into place, the way they should when writing a scene.  I expect this was because I actually took a few days before I wrote it and made sure that the villain was the right villain, and that I knew how the confrontation would go down.  Well, I thought I did, anyway, but -
  • Each scene I planned in advance, and each scene came out at least a little differently than I’d planned.  Instead of trying to fix this, I went with it, and trusted the instinct.
  • Each day I started with revising what I’d written the previous day, then checking the list and assessing whether or not I was on track.  If I wasn’t, I took some time to do some planning to get back on track.  This ultimately meant that I wrote less, but what I ended up writing was of a higher quality, because I gave myself permission to get it right, and because if it wasn’t right, I gave myself permission to mull it over and fix it the next day, rather than pushing forward with the “I’ll fix it later” attitude.  The next day the writing still felt like soft clay, still moldable.  It also meant that I put less pressure on how much I had to get done each session, which made it easier to start.
  • Some days I didn’t write at all, I just revised, researched and planned.  But each day I worked at least a little on the story.

As this was a short story, the plotting was simplified, there were fewer characters to develop, and it was easier to keep all of the story elements in my mind.  But I think the lessons I learned from the process that I used will help me in my novel revisions and in writing my next first draft.  I’m still learning this craft, and I think the biggest learning curve is learning what works for me.  It’s learning how to work within my personal limitations to allow the story to make it to the page in its truest form.  And I’m finding that what works for me is slow and steady, as opposed to the quick and dirty first draft.  I’m surprised, but I’m just going to go with it.

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