Friday, November 23, 2012

Writing on Writing Entry 7 - Laying Down the Bones


The first step to writing is to get the story, whether a short story or novel-sized or even the essay, out of your head, into words, and into a print format.  I like to call this process as gathering the bones, otherwise known as producing a first draft.  When writing the first draft you should not concern yourself too much with whether or not the story is written well, if the punctuation is correct, if there are typos, or poor grammar, or even whether the story is in the right order. It only matters that you write your story down so that you have something to work with, or so that someone else, as for instance your editor has something to see in order that he or she can direct you through the next step.  Without the first draft, there is no story at all, no matter whether that first draft is a short story, an essay, or a novel sized manuscript.

The second step to writing is revision or laying down the bones. In revising a first draft, your job is to lay out the bones in the correct order and in the process remove any bones that don’t belong or any duplicate bones such as repetitive ideas.  You will also check each bone for cracks or breaks such as unrealistic or unjustified occurrences. This goes for fantasy/sci-fi or fiction.  When writing fantasy/sci-fi, make sure you do not step out of the boundaries of the world you create without first notifying your audience.  Also, make sure to set up your worlds in a manner realistic to your story. When writing fiction, it is even more important to stick to realism.  Make sure of the placement of any existing or previously existing landmarks. Research any historical facts or people that you might include in your story.  Search out any contradictions within your story. Research and keep notes on your research to refer to later.  Now is the time to mend these bones.

Just a note here: It is common for writers when trying to express a point that they write the same idea to describe a circumstance in different ways to make sure their readers understand what they are trying to say.  A good rule to follow here is to say it once, say it well and then leave it be.  Repetition is a common trick that students use when writing an assignment to boost their word count.  This is not a good ploy as most, if not all, teachers or professors see right through this ruse.  So, my advice is to stick to the afore mentioned rule.  

Once you have the bones of your first draft placed in the proper order, you have a good strong structure as a base to build your story.  It is now an easier task to begin to go on to the next steps of revision, which is to add the body of your story including the vital organs, the muscle and tissue, or as they say, “flesh the story out.”

Don’t fear that bag of bones.  Remember, first drafts are never the final product; they are just the beginning of the writing process. So sit down and fill that bag.  In other words: Don’t think, just write.

Thanks for stopping by... ~Yvonne~




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