Here at QuestingAuthor, we enjoy reminding all those aspiring novelists that their first work is going to be trash. We have mentioned it countless times in our past articles with regards to bringing inspiration and aid to those that seek to venture into the trenches of the writing process. We try to get across the message that your first draft will probably feel like a pile of horse dung, we even diagnosed a disease that has to do with this.
But the question may yet linger in the minds of some of you. Why do I insist on being so cruel and unrelenting to you?
Do I secretly relish in the fact that you agonize over the quality of your work on a daily basis? Do I seek revenge to have other people feel what I feel when I sit down to write? Do I wish to stomp out the competition by discouraging an entire generation of young writers, only to grow a monopoly in the publishing industry? While all of these questions may
share in a fragment of truth every now and then, my main reasoning for this is leagues beyond in complexity.
I’m not the first person to tell you that it is important to accept that your writing will be trash. In fact, there’s a huge chance that you’ve read, heard, or seen multiple other people who have told you the exact same thing. Many of these individuals would paint the trudge and struggle of the first draft as being an inevitable tragedy that one must tolerate in order to complete their works. And to a certain extent, they have a point.
The first draft is certainly a massive struggle and can be profoundly tragic at times. With the rollercoaster of emotions that one feels during the writing process, I wouldn’t blame a novice for regretting all of their choices instantly. The first draft, like all writing, is an uphill battle. And also as with all writing, you are at an embarrassing disadvantage. This grants the experience of writing a first draft a bit of a melancholic underpinning to it, that could understandibly be something that we dread as wordsmiths.
But that’s only one way to look at it.
You could choose this way of thinking and still go on with this writing life of yours like it was nobody’s business. Or you could choose to adopt an alternative, and conversely, more optimistic perspective with regards to your trashy draft. Namely, my perspective.
Yeah, yeah, we get it. A good chunk of the sentences that you spent hours typing away are going to cut out of the final product. Yes, we obviously know that you’re going to end up fixing most of the description throughout your unpolished manuscripts. Of course, we know that your characters are not as compelling as you would have wanted them to be. All of these things are truths that should be basic to us. But we shouldn’t view these with dread, sorrow, or misery. We should approach these with a brimming smile on our faces, and the determination to move forward.
Just think of all those cringy scenes that you made in the original text. Think of those awkward pieces of dialogue that were more suited to an erotic novel than your work of fantasy literature. Think of those redundant metaphors and similes that you recycle whenever you run out of things to say. Think of those combat scenes that were as
engaging as a random encounter in Final Fantasy. Think of those villains that were too hammy, those protagonists that were bland, those generic places you wrote, and the list goes on! You can choose to look at these in shame. You could make the choice to scold yourself for lacking in creativity. Or you could whip out your manuscript, face that novel you’ve been working on and…
Laugh at those cringy moments, that suggestive dialogue, those pretentious uses of figurative language, those boring combat scenes, and everything else. Just laugh at them. Laugh and smile when you see them.
Because at the end of the day, a part of you is going to end up missing all those poorly written scenes. Those are scenes that are going to end up as memories that you can look back on with a smile. I would endorse you to start having fun while you write these bad scenes! Because that’s the beauty of your very first draft. The first draft is the purest expression of your artistic desires placed on paper, your trashy first draft is the manifestation of your raw potential, and that trashy first draft can be pimped out into something that’s worth reading. But that first draft is free of any expectations that may have been placed upon you, any restrictions that a publisher might give you, and the only
time that your mind will be entirely free when you write your books.
At the end of the day, you might see it fit to cast aside that trashy first draft and send it to the darkest recesses of hell. But before you would take that course of action, I’d have one thing that I’d like you to understand. That first draft might be garbage, but it’s your garbage. And no one will ever be able to take that away from you, save for yourself.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.
“Psst, hey kid. I hear ya like books? I’m right now aren’t I? Well, if ya like books, why not head down and check out the first chapter of the QuestingAuthor’s fantasy novel, The Swordsinger. It’s a classic fantasy tale, just the kinda thing that a loser like you would be into.” The old hobo’s breath smells like he just downed five bottles of beer, but you find yourself attracted to the prospect of fine, classical literature.
You nod and accept his offer.
With a sickly cough the hobo smiles a toothless grin “That’s a good boy. I knew you had it in ya. Now just gimme a moment.”
He rummages through the torn pockets in his coat, and hands you a document that has the backside facing you. You utter an awkward chuckle, surprised that you weren’t offered an illegal drug in the place of a novel excerpt “Thank you, sir.”
“No…thank you…” with his stench following him, the hobo slinks back into the shroud of darkness that clings to the alley he chose as his home.
Ignoring the peculiar exchange, you let your eyes drift back to the document. You flip it over and it reads Prelude.