Today my post is all about the fun of drafting. As authors, we all know what it’s like to finally (FINALLY) type “The End” and really mean it. That high is so very lofty, it’s hard to come down. But we do, letting the story simmer for a while and then coming back to read with fresh, hopefully untainted vision.

And, with newly unclouded eyes, we read in disbelief thinking, “what ridiculously silly person wrote this manure?”

“Oh. Right. That silly person was me.

Inspired by This post from author Alyssa MacKay listing her thoughts on reading her first draft, I did a read-through of my current finished book draft. For fun—and to keep myself from starting to believe that every single word is crap that must be deleted—I treated it like a game. Good things get me points, mistakes take points away. There is no goal, scoreboard, prize, or satisfaction. If the game appeals to you, consider yourself invited to play. (Read through your current draft taking notes, and please do link me to your post if you write one! I would love to read your take on this.)

points dont matter
Image: Drew Carrey opening Whose Line is it Anyway? with the words: “Welcome back to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show where everything’s made up and the point don’t matter.” A life motto to live by.

Here, for you, are some 100% honest reading thoughts, scattered with links to posts in which I address the very same problems I just found in my own writing.

  • I’ve re-written this opening sentence so many times that I’m sick of looking at it. Does it even make sense? +10 points for good ol’ fashioned effort, I guess.
  • End of the paragraph: “Her days of trailing along as the world’s most useless sidekick were over.” I hope it makes a good hook? I would be hooked, if I were reading. Definitely a good hook. -5 points for subjective hoping.
  • Dun dun dun. Foreshadowing. Well, I know it’s foreshadowing. Readers might not? But I tried to make it obvious? +10 foreshadowing effort points.
  • “It reminded her”=telling. Plus I started a sentence with a pronoun. Damn it. -10 grammar points.
  • Note to self [World building]. Beta readers said there wasn’t enough world building in the first few pages. But I’m actually better than I thought at setting a scene. -10 exposition points.
  • Every other freaking chapter has someone smiling, chuckling, or laughing. What are they all so happy about? I’m not doing enough as the Story God to make their lives miserable. Bad me. Bad. – 20 points for using the same action tags for every character.
  • Uggh this is exposition-y and obvious about it. But the world must be built, or the beta readers will remind me again that they don’t know what’s going on.  -100 points for a rock and +100 points for a hard place.
Image: A Japanese game show character which resembles a life size plushie toy running frantically, barely ahead of multiple explosions. Visual representation of what editing a first draft feels like.
  • There’s a mix of dialogue and action in this chapter. I’m going to feel good about that until someone shoots me down. +10 cocky author points.
  • That was funny. It still makes me laugh. Also bawdy humor, so win-win. +5 inappropriate humor points.
  • Should there be a comma there? Or is that more of an em-dash situation? -25 not-knowing-basic-grammar points.
  • I’m unsure 3rd person deep is the right POV. Now is SO NOT the time to be questioning my POV choices. And I’m damn sure not writing anything in 1st person. I’m so tired of everything being 1st person. We have to be near the end of this trend. +15 existential crisis points
  • I truly and genuinely don’t know anything about commas. -5 grammar points
  • Enough with the commas! Who do I think I am, Charles Dickens? -10 Victorian punctuation points.
  • Yasss, nice and dramatic. Explosions! Danger! Trauma! Good chapter ending hook, past SE self. +10 drama points.
  • I already know the big reveal coming up, so it’s impossible for me to say if this is page-turner material. I think that means another round of beta reading. +35 points for bravery
  • Bahaha. A little dry wit. +15 sarcasm points.
  • Holy giant wall of paragraph, Batman! Let’s chop that up a little. -10 too-wordy points
  • I’m still in love with this ending. I will fight anyone who tries to tell me different. +20 points to myself for being confident for no reason.

Final First Draft Score: Minus several million points for good sense. Plus several million points for another round of beta reading.

Featured image via and Erol Ahmed.