The Rough Draft (A Process Reflection)

When I teach writing to my students, I always tell them – actually YELL them – DO NOT PLAN YOUR ENDING!

The ending must be natural.  It should be INFORMED, but every detail can’t be planned, or it will require you to write within confines or feel guilty for not.  Listen to the characters and follow their lead.

As such, I don’t plan my endings, either.  I’m nearly finished writing my (“mild” – because it is not as intensely fantasy as most in the genre, but borrows from many ideas, especially in the dream and psychokinesis world) scifi/fantasy upper-middle grade novel.  I’m just at that crucial climax right now, and have stepped back to let the ideas breathe and grow.  Just a day will do wonders for the plot!

But as I have reached this place in the manuscript, I’ve found so many intricacies within the characters and plot that are not present enough in the text.  I know now that when I revise, I will bring these out more.  I’ve started a list of what to change, add or highlight.  And the beauty of it is, it is all so REAL to me, because I’ve allowed my characters to grow into people.  There are connections I couldn’t have possibly planned in the traditional sense of writing down a list at the start of the writing process.  I needed to get to know the characters in their setting to see what might happen.  I needed to be taken down paths with them, and lead them in difficult directions.  It’s a give and take.

The first draft is called a rough draft for a reason: it needs to be sanded and stained to bring out the true beauty that is already there, but isn’t obvious to everyone.  Of course I know what is happening in the story – I wrote it.  But will others?  As I wrap up the manuscript this week (!!!!), I’ll give it some breathing room before I go back to sand it, and then stain it.  I can’t wait to see what else comes forward as I complete this rough draft.


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