Of the chapters I have finished in first draft, 100% of them are poor. I give little to no descriptions, the dialogue often seems unnatural. I stick to the third person POV, but I jump between past and present when I don’t mean to.
I thought I was going to be a planner. I had everything mapped in my mind, how it would play out in the end. But, I hadn’t put much thought into what each chapter would contain – the little things that go on in life. So, I’ve winged it.
After writing some first draft chapters, my confidence was knocked. However, when I sit and edit them after leaving them for a week or two (or six), I view them from a fresh perspective, and I improve them a lot I think (I hope).
My first drafts are written on pen and paper. I prefer it as then my innate editor doesn’t proof read and change everything I write the second I write it. This is an excerpt from the start of my books third chapter, spelling mistakes, cross outs et al:
flocked scurried away in there drones as the thursday market stalls closed. The morning was warm and Lord Gerald Eckhart had been for a morning strole. The port was busy, and the city barracks was loud alive with the sound of clashing steel. Gerald had been down to the city cemetary, where the king had been buried four days before. “It is odd for a king to be buried here”, one peasant said. “He ruled for the people he loved”, one wench replied, “He was one of us, and wanted to be buried with us.”
All over the shop. I even ‘forgot’ to write the most important sight in the chapter. However, after one edit of this paragraph, this is what I had. It isn’t anywhere perfect and there is a lot I will change, but I think I’ve made a drastic improvement.
People scurried away like mice as the Sunday market closed. The morning was a surprisingly warm one, for the time of the year anyway. Lord Gerald Eckhart strolled through the city centre towards the harbour. The city centre was now quiet, except for the chilling sound of wood creaking, as an occupied noose swung below. The few people left in the square had their backs to it, seemingly avoiding the body’s gaze.
Flies swarmed around the dangling corpse, and crows circled overhead. The belly of the body had begun to turn green.
It had been four days since Queen [Insert Name] had been hung for the murder of the queen. “You are hereby declared guilty of the murder of the king by poison. You are sentenced to death.” The hammer went down, and the queen’s screams still rang in Gerald’s head.
Her eyes were fixed on Gerald as he passed, seeing straight through him when their eyes met.
Gerald passed East Hill, then Baker’s Row, and then the city barracks, which was alive with the sound of clashing steel. The small side streets weren’t busy, except for a few children running around. Orphans, Gerald guessed. The city cemetery lay ahead of the army base.
He had only been to the cemetery once, five days previous. The king was laid to rest at the traditional time of sunset. As the old king is laid to rest, another will rise on the morrow. But, the sun had risen five times, and no new king was crowned.
A crowd of peasants surrounded the grave. Gerald approached. “It is odd for a king to be buried here,” one man said. “He ruled for the people he loved”, one wench replied, “He was one of the people, and wanted to be buried with his people.” Oh, of course he was one of you, Gerald thought, except with more money, clean water, a large warm home and all the food he could eat, and more. Fools.
I think it’s fair to say that was an improvement. Well, it better be.
I didn’t think I’d enjoy editing, but I enjoy it more than writing the first draft. I’m excited by what I want to write on the first draft, but I never portray it in words as good as I imagine it in my head. But, on the edit, with a clear mind, you can turn a turd into a polished turd. Hopefully, one day there will be no turd, but a sparkling toilet bowl.
Hopefully this will give confidence to people in my position, who have never wrote anything away from school in their life. To meet the typical cliché: it does get better.
Good luck on your projects people!