First Drafts

(I know, I know.  I’m a blogging slacker.  And I have no excuses.)

I’m working on a first draft right now.  First drafts are always so…drafty.

I had forgotten, specifically, how much I hate to write first drafts of action scenes.  The setting details are always insufficient for the reader to picture the action, and I know it.  But since I don’t know exactly how the action is going to play out blow by blow, I don’t know what’s important until after I’ve written it.

All scenes are about tension, about setup and prolonged setup and more stretched out setup–and then the fear of failure, the decision point, and the release.  This is much easier for me to do with dialogue, where characters are reacting to each other directly.  I say this, you say that in return.  It’s clear how we’re in conflict!  I don’t like what you’re saying to me and I’m going to tell you about it!

But with action, unless it’s a direct fight scene (which I rarely write), the back and forth is, by definition, unstated.  So I spend a lot of time in my drafts writing setting details that don’t matter, so I can find the ones that do.  Having the characters get themselves into physical positions that are total distractions from the direction of the scene, and will ultimately have to be deleted.  I never know which details are the important ones until I can step back and revise the scene holistically, and it inevitably turns out that the important details are the ones I didn’t write, and the unimportant details are the ones I did.

But I can’t see the scene as a whole until it exists.  And it can’t exist until I write it…badly.

The badly writing part though…it’s not my favorite.

But it’s necessary.  So back to it.