Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How I write my vomit draft

I'm toying around with titles. What do you guys think of this one? Nice Girls Don't Kill.

I suck at titles.

One thing I am really good at producing is a true vomit draft. I tend to write with wild abandon, no real editing and no looking back. Sometimes at the beginning I edit a little because I'm still finding my characters, and often I'm unsatisfied with the day's pages because I don't know who these people are yet. But now that I'm in the middle of it everybody knows who they are.

So now I write my pages with very little correction. I even change major plot details and do not go back and change previous pages. For example, I changed my protagonist's profession but haven't gone back to fix the pages that introduced her workplace. I made a note on my outline and kept going. Sometimes I'll shoot a gun and realize I never put it in anybody's hand, so I make a note on the outline and keep going.

Sometimes I'll come across a scene I don't feel like writing - usually some B story stuff that I haven't figured out - so I'll jot down a note about what goes there, highlight it in yellow, and keep going. Sometimes I'll forget a character's name who we haven't seen in a while so I'll just write THIS GUY'S NAME WHATEVER IT IS and star it, and keep going. When I'm writing I try not to stop or go back for anything.

If you were to read my first finished draft it would make no sense at all.

I go back for the second pass, filling in the highlighted story gaps and fixing all the continuity errors I noted on the outline. It's not until my third pass that I start making real changes to the story. I think I do this because I tend to go in order, always pushing forward, so if I'm going to work on something I'd rather start from page one and shoot through it than jump around and work out of order.

So this is my method. What's yours?


  1. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Nice Girls Don't Kill... It gives me a 40s pulp fiction vibe.

    Some of my favorite pulp titles from back then:

    Suddenly A Corpse, Taste of Brass, and The G-String Murders!

    -- Mr. Penn State

  2. I love the name of your movie "Nice Girls Don't Cry"!!

  3. Pretty similar with the forward-motion only. I keep a separate file with all the changes, big or small, I need to make to any previous scenes. I'll always review the previous days work and fix typos and things but I never go back further than that.

    I almost never skip scenes though. Even if I know I'm not feeling it and it'll probably be crap and completely re-written later, there will be a run at every scene by the time I get to the end. At least I get the motivation down for the scene and know what it's there to accomplish.

    If the scene is truly something I can skip and not lose insight, then I'd just as soon cut it altogether.

  4. Love the title.

    I'm only new at this however I understand needing to keep the momentum going. I think I need to rough out all the scenes as best I can, even with the 1st draft.

    However, I try to keep it going when I get some momentum up and come back later to tidy up. Dialogue is one of my problems - writing dialogue quickly is always too much on the nose with me.

  5. Nice Girls Don't Kill it is, then. Thanks!

    DBC I have the same issue. The dialogue is always terrible on the first pass, but later on it gets easier to trim it down. It also becomes easier when I know my characters better.

    Allan, I totally get that. I have to at least put something in the place of missing scenes. I don't get how anyone can just jump around.


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