The naughty words are from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anne didn’t write me and tell me to cut my drafts, “shitty” or otherwise. In fact, she gave me permission to write them. My editor Debbie Simorte told me it was a good idea to delete them from my blog, for the same reason spammers give me.
“Your site is rife with errors.”
Excuse me, Ms Spammer, “rife with errors.” I have a few too many, I admit, but I think rife is harsh.
But Debbie agreed, even though she didn’t put it like that. Editors look at your site. If they see a Work in Progress (WIP), see it even has an acronym, they wonder if the rest of the story will be a WIP.
To the 10 faithful Girls on Fire world-wide readers, I apologise, but you’ve already read it anyway. So no apology needed, right? To the 3.05 billion internet users who hadn’t seen it yet, I’m sorry, but you will have to buy the book when it comes out.
Anne Lamott’s Stages of Drafts and Tips to Get Through Them
1. DOWNDRAFT: First draft – get it down
- Avoid so much draft three – dental work – by setting your page the way publishers will want it – even if you are just practicing.
- double space
- indent paragraphs
- use only one space between sentences instead of the old-fashioned two. The best way to do this is to turn on the little button ¶ that hides in various places depending on what program you use. This magic button shows you how many spaces you have everywhere.
- Write out small numbers. Just get in the habit while you are putting things down. It makes it easier later and it doesn’t slow down your spontaneity.
- Sometimes in the middle of your editing you have to draft an entirely new chapter to fill in the holes. I did that today. Forgive yourself and with that chapter you are back to stage one.
2. UPDRAFT: Second draft – fix it up
- Ask someone like you husband who never read a romance in his life to read it. His insight will astound you. You will learn how men think, and more importantly how he thinks. He will be really honest and say things like, “You can’t wrestle a washer full of water. Have her turn off the water like this. Come here.” Or “This sounds petty like she is making fun of the blind. Pick a different cause. Why did she say something stupid like that?”
3. DENTAL DRAFT: Third draft – check each tooth
- This is a job for another pair of eyes. A very picky pair. This person finds errors that run between chapters like “Ted is 88 in chapter 2 and 89 in chapter 1.” Or “Why did Vanessa move away from Sarah’s into a hotel. I like her living with Sarah, but then you have to deal with her comments to Tani in Chapter 2.
- This is where you also pick up the extra space between sentences, commas on the inside of quotation marks, and misplaced commas in general,
- Eliminate passive verbs and redundant words
What I realized is that we weave a net when we birth fiction characters, just like life. When we edit one thing we may miss the other connections that one statement makes. You need those extra eyes.
That’s it for today. Thanks for the pictures, Google.