Ugh-ly

Yesterday I pulled out the second WIP starring my favorite pirate family.  I have a total of thirteen book ideas for my chapter book series.  Currently, I’m shopping around the first and only finished book.

I’ve never felt compelled to write a series or a trilogy or any sort of companion books in the past.  My middle grade and YA novels all stand alone. 

In part, this is because the stories have reached the end by the time I type those words on the last page.  There is no need for further commentary.  No compelling adventures left to unfold.

Yet both my chapter books could go on.  And, in the world of publishing, really should. 

Chapter books is one of the few genres where it is desirable to add subsequent stories.  Kids get hooked at just the right age to read about their same favorite characters in a wide variety of adventures. 

Junie B. Jones.  Magic Tree House.  Jigsaw Jones.  Diary of a Whimpy Kid.

Chapter books are not lucrative by anybody’s standards.  But they do serve a noble purpose for kids.  They tap into the unconditional love that kids have for their passion of the moment.  If we are lucky, that passionate moment happens to be ours.

Now, I love my first book in the “series”.  I thought I loved the second book, as well.  However, I had to laugh when I pulled out the half finished WIP for the first time in almost a year. 

It was Ugh-ly.  With a capital U.

I think I’ve forgotten how truly horrible first drafts can be.  It had more spelling errors, typos and grammar mishaps than should be legal in a WIP.  For just one second, I felt compelled to fix everything as I read.  Then I stopped myself.

Rough drafts are supposed to be ugly.  They are imperfect by nature.  Yet at the same time, they are more perfect than we can ever imagine.  For they are the culmination of our passionate moments as writers.  They hold a certain magic that can never be duplicated.

I have held back on finishing this second book because I didn’t want to waste my time writing all thirteen adventures only to find out the first book would never see the light of a bookstore. 

But, the itch to finish the second one is strong right now.  I actually added an extra 1,700 words to it last night.  Already I am looking forward to editing.  I can’t wait to turn something this Ugh-ly into something readable. 

Such is the joy of writing.

How bad are your rough drafts?  Do you cringe when you reread them?  Or, do you edit as you go?  Can you feel the magic in those first, imperfect sentences and know that something beautiful is waiting to get teased from the tangled mess?

Are you a series writer?  If so, why and what genre do you write for?

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10 responses to “Ugh-ly

  1. As I grow as a writer and apply the things I’ve learned, each first draft gets a little cleaner. But they’re still ugly. My WIP has about 115 plot holes, and oops, whatever happened to that one character I introduced in chapter eleven? Wait, I thought my MC had blue eyes, not brown. And since I killed off the villain in chapter thirty, why did he just come back to life? Wish I was kidding on that last one… But now you see what I mean when I say my first drafts are UGLY! 😉

    However, I calm down by telling myself every writer goes through this, it’s only natural. And all those countless mistakes? I can fix them in the rewrites. Usually, when I reread my story though, I’m surprised to find some beauty, a few unexpected lines here and there, squished between the poor writing.

  2. Elana Johnson posted a great blog about ‘cleaning up the puke’ that is your rough draft. I can so relate. I’m not so great at editing at this point. I need to crack that whip on myself and get back to it. 😉 I’m determined I will before too long.

    • Lisa,

      Editing isn’t so bad once you get in the swing of it. It generally takes me about three or four pages before I’m really in the groove. But then its worse than reading. I can’t seem to stop until I’ve gone through the whole thing.

      If you need/want an extra set of eyes along the way, I’ll be happy to help out.

  3. My rough drafts are deliciously ugly, especially my nanos. Characters’ names and descriptions change, people appear and then disappear for no reason, and the secret reveal at the end of the novel turns out to be something as inane as the meaning of Christmas.

    I can’t seem to write anything but series in fantasy and sci-fi.

    • Barbara,

      I think those are definitely two genres that series works well for.

      Don’t you just love how ugly and yet beautiful a rough draft can be? There is something so amazing about them. They’re so powerful. Mwaaaahaaahaaahaaa.

  4. In grade school, teachers called first drafts “sloppy copies.” That’s a perfect name for my first drafts! My final draft never looks like my original draft. And that’s a good thing, lol!

    I have an award for you at my blog!

    • Laura,

      Sloppy is about right. Unsightly and messy and a whole lot of ugly. But beautiful for being completed, none-the-less! My end products don’t even come close to my first drafts. I cut ruthlessly and add chapters as fast as pounds on a pregnant lady!

      Thanks, I’ll hop over there as soon as I can! Hugs.

  5. I do tend to edit a bit as I go, but the first draft is a far cry from the final 🙂

    I love the sloppy copies idea from Laura’s teacher – I’m going to steal that one!

    • Jemi,

      One of the best things about our writing community is the sharing of ideas. Somebody always has a great idea that can be used by at least on other writer.

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