Monday, March 19, 2012

10 Early Draft Horrors

Picking up that manuscript after it's necessary rest in a drawer is a brave act. One knows it isn't perfect. One knows there will be language to tighten or heighten, but then there are the errors that makes one wonder why one doesn't fall down more.

Since there's nothing in the world like sharing one's humiliation, I offer to you, gentle reader, (in no particular order...) some past discoveries:

The main character's height changed.
He started off very tall and lost about 6 inches somewhere in the last third of the plot. I tried to logic out that he lost the height because he was tired and wanted the damn thing to end, but then I realized that that was me, not him.

I intended to drop a small but vital clue early in the story.
Intended is the operative word in the previous sentence. It was supposed to be one of those 'when you reread the story after reading the conclusion you are amazed at the author's craftiness' moments. Yeah. Truly tricky to pull off this moment when the clue's NOT THERE.

Inconsistent character names.
Yes, I knew about 'Search and Replace'. I used 'Search and Replace' many times. I have no explanation.

Rooms changed locations.
Unfortunately I was not writing about a magic house. Floor plan drawing ensued.

A character having favourite phrases.
I thought it would be endearing. I erred.

A wise character who never made a mistake.
I discovered this resulted in a character I yearned to hit over the head with a cast iron skillet - or trip as he was walking down a hall. I leant towards the former.

The rhythm of characters' dialogue changing during one scene.
It was as if they'd morphed into different people. Drat. I might have been able to keep it if the scene had been taking place during cocktails. It wasn't. And no, I couldn't move it there. 
The pace (usually somewhere in the middle) slowed to the speed of a sloth on a slow day.
Thought about throwing in another body.Thought about throwing in a cuddly monster. Ended up doing a combination of the two. (No, gentle reader, I did not insert a dead cuddly monster. That would be cruel.)

Scenes tipped over into melodrama.
Sometimes the line between drama and melodrama is whisker-thin. I tripped over more often than I care to admit.

A scene which took ages to write and I adored.
Unfortunately, it did nothing for plot or character development. Agony ensued. Scene did not.


  1. Elspeth - Oh, you must have been looking over my shoulder at some point because I've done the same kind of thing, too. *Cringe* Once, I even had a character return home after a day trip to another city - after he'd already made plans and reservations to stay in that city overnight to save the drive home. Not my finest moment.

    1. You're back! I've missed you. Thanks for not allowing me to stand in the humiliation puddle by myself!

  2. Hi Elspeth!

    It's been a while since I stopped by. Funny, but this post describes in a way what I've been doing. I have a manuscript that has been hidden and resurfaced for the past 10 years. Everytime I read it, I cringe. I try rewriting. It just doesn't work! Argh!!

    Maybe I should throw in a couple of bodies and a monster...


    1. Hi Jen!

      Sometimes we just have to laugh, don't we? Hope all is well with you and thanks so much for letting me know you dropped by!

  3. I am guilty of
    a. none of the above
    b. some of the above
    c. many of the above
    d. all of the above
    Don't they say D is usually the right answer?

    1. I'll never say. I'm sure you'd never get a 'D' in anything.


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