“The first draft of anything is shit.” -Ernest Hemingway
Wise words from Nobel and Pulitzer winner, Ernest Hemingway. To accept the shitty first draft is the first step to becoming a writer. Better if you can accept it even as you write it. Because any writing process is a long one. There’s writing. And rewriting. And then rewriting again. And with so many steps, why strain to write something great in the first draft?
So take a page from Papa, and write that shitty first draft. What greater freedom is there in writing?
Read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to see snippets of his first draft alongside the finished work.
Writing is all-consuming. Writing fiction particularly so because it allows your imagination to run wild and create worlds. These worlds need characters, settings, timelines, and conflicts, depending on the characters you’ve created.
Plot is what the character does which is determined by his or her conflicts, desires, needs, and so on, and when the writer (you) examines human reactions to what happens. For instance, how does love, longing, regret, and ambition or greed play out in a story? It depends on the character.
Traditionally, a story begins with some kind of description that leads to a complication. The complication leads to crisis point where something has to change. The character needs to make a decision and others around him react. The sequence of action and reaction leads to the heightening of the story and eventually a climax and resolution.
As Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren wrote in Understanding Fiction, fiction is interpretive: “Every story must indicate some basis for the relation among its parts, for the story itself is a particular writer’s way of saying how you can make sense of human experience.”