Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Drafts & Character Control

Sorry I've neglected my blog this summer. I had rotator cuff surgery, and it's tougher to type when you're rocking a sling. The sling's still on, but I couldn't wait to discuss this with you.

Tonight, I explained to my church small group one of the reasons I wouldn't let my girls read my current work-in-progress: Language. It's a young adult book, mind you, and as those go, it's not too scandalous. But it's a first draft, and although I'm hoping to replace the bad language during the revision process, I refuse to censor it now. Here's why:

In the first draft, I'm not really in control.

I have ideas, mind you. Sometimes I jot them down ahead of time-- a new concept for a former pantster like myself. But my characters lead me... and sometimes it's a wild ride.

Mazie, my current main character, is fresh out of juvie and now hanging out in a tattoo shop (Most fun field research ever). Needless to say, we've met some interesting characters. Not all of them speak in language my grandmother would approve of, but I'm typing fast and trying not to interrupt.

First drafts should be real and raw, in my opinion. I'm happy to let my internal editor help with revisions, but find if I listen to her at this stage, my characters clam up and my story stalls.

How about you? Do your characters lead you during a first draft? Or are you the puppet master, feeding them their lines and controlling their every move. Leave a comment to share your thoughts.