The draft, getting it right the first time.


Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.


Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time?


Before I answer that, I need to put my writing career into context.

If you’d told me in 2010 that I would have written nearly 20 books, as well as all the blog posts and other things, I’d have shaken my head in disbelief. Back in the day, I had trouble writing anything much and usually resorted to using the telephone to get a message across. I even had trouble deciding what to write in greetings cards. At work, I just used to put a number in every box on official paperwork and hope for the best.

Yet now, I can write two or three thousand words a day, over several story arcs in four different genres. It all started with the dreams that wouldn’t go away.

Once I tapped into the stream of pictures in my head and learnt how to control them while I typed with two fingers (usually one from EACH hand!), I couldn’t stop. I had realised that the pictures could be written down, that the dreams I had every night actually meant something. Over time, I started to get some sort of control over what I was seeing. I found that I could tap into the dreams during my waking hours. Now, I can watch almost at will, slow them down, pause and rewind, just to make sure that I get all the relevant information onto the page. But, as I’ve said before, I can NEVER fast forward.


Returning to the subject.

This means that all my work has been written on the fly, without planning, stopping or going back to see what’s been happening.

Firstly, I’m usually surprised at what I’ve written. I don’t touch-type so I can’t actually see the screen until I stop for a second, to have some coffee or stretch my shoulders. I will take a look as I correct the typos and wonder where it all came from, frequently I won’t remember writing a word of it. It’s only when I get the message that I’ve finished that I’ll take a quick look through the whole story before it wings its way to my editor.

The strangest part is that, when I read the whole manuscript, I very rarely find anything that doesn’t fit. There are no plot holes, things that appear to make no sense on page 40 are explained on page 200 and looking back over it as a whole, I wonder how I managed to do that. I have never had to rewrite a section because it didn’t fit.

It should be pretty clear to anyone that I’m not actually responsible for what I write, as least as far as novels and short stories are concerned.

This blog post is my own work, in that respect writing down what’s in my head had improved my ability to create blog content.

Plus, it gives me something to write when the voices fall silent. Which is good as without them, I can’t think of anything to add to my half-finished projects.

By the way, I’ve revised this post and re-written it several times, what does that tell you?


Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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10 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    Ooh-er, that’s eerie! This reminds me of G.F Handel, who said he was visited by the angels and wrote The Messiah in just one week.

    • Richard Dee

      When the voices in my head go quiet, I’m in trouble. I actually have to think of what to write myself. And it shows!

  2. Phil Huston

    I write much the same way. I learned, though, not to trust my cosmic radio drafts all that much. The story is there, but so are the scene frags, the paragraphs are misaligned. Mostly usable thoughts that, as they come on me, are out of sync. Or a character is like “Oh, yeah,and there’s this…” I edit words the same way I edited music. Does it work? Is it too busy, too empty, too slow? I’m more of an adios guy than a flesh it out guy.

    • Richard Dee

      Wherever this stuff comes from, they will repeat it in slow motion, until I get what they want me to see. In general, it’s like binge-watching a boxset that you know nothing about. In strict order.

  3. Lela Markham

    Yeah, I have voices in my head too (a situation I was nervous to share with my social worker coworkers when I worked in community behavior health – the road engineers are fascinated, now). And, mine do sometimes fast forward. I had one recently tell me something he’ll be doing about 20 years in the future of the series he’s in now and I’m like (finders in my ears) “La-la-la-la, I can’t hear you. How am I supposed to sell that you might die in the next book if I know you’re going to live to be middle-aged? Shut the heck up!” But of course, fingers in my ears does work because the voices are in my head. Dang it!

    • Richard Dee

      I was convinced I was going crazy at first, now it’s like talking to old friends. They delight in arguing amongst themselves, fight for my attention and insist on telling me more just when I think I’ve finished.

  4. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    Interesting, Richard, you have mentioned how you write before. It sounds like a good way of doing it. I do get into a zone, but nothing like this. I am definitely the writer and director of my works for want of a better description.

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