I’m working on Chapter 10 of Shattered, where Alice and Liam tentatively decide to take a chance on a relationship. The chapter involves a lot of dialogue between them, and with Alice’s family. When this happens, I often handle it by just writing the dialogue, omitting the thoughts and body language that go with it. Afterwards I go back and fill in the narrative.
I find this useful in a couple of ways. If I have trouble adding thoughts or actions, it makes me take a second look at the dialogue. Would Liam really say that, and if so, why? What does Alice really mean by her reply? Leaving the narrative until later also lets me write the dialogue quickly, without stalling on the exact words to describe what someone is thinking or angsting over whether I have too much narrative or not enough. I still do that when I go back to write the next layer, but having the dialogue already in place makes it easier.
Then I often find myself going back to add a third layer – emotion. I usually don’t include a lot in my first draft. I used to think that having a rather flat, unemotional first draft was a weakness, but now I understand that it’s part of my process. First I have to tell the story.
In a recent blog post, my RWAC chapter mate Donna Alward used the term ‘discovery draft’. That’s what this run-through of Shattered is becoming. Writers of blogland, how do you approach a first draft? Do you write a lot of words and scenes and then prune later? Do you layer like I do? Do you sometimes write dialogue only?
P.S. on my fitness program – got my monthly weigh and measure done yesterday, the first one. This is my baseline. Instead of updating each week, I’m going to wait until my next weigh and measure in November. I’m making my workouts and watching what I eat, so at this point I’m pleased. Slow but steady is the plan.