Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Perfection is Overrated...

So yesterday I completed my first draft of FLY BY NIGHT and sent it off to the producer, sat back, relaxed and got some sleep.

And it's funny because there were several folks around me who said "Huzzah" and so forth and that's great and all (and we really love them for it)...

But let's be honest for a moment.

A first draft is just priming the pump for what will be the real job. As they all say, "Writing isn't the problem, its the rewriting that's the bitch."

But so many folks have problems just getting that first draft out of their system. Their level of expectation for a first draft is soooooo high that they either get bogged down in the writing process and grind to a halt never completing that first draft - or- they never begin it in the first place. They have this insane idea it has to be perfect from the starting gate.


Part of the reason you do a first draft is to get all of your bad ideas, bad dialogue, bad character choices and... crap out of your system and onto the page. There in the light of day, in harsh Black & White are all your bad decisions (along with a healthy dose of good ones) staring you in the face.

The good news is now that you can see them - and see how an early bad decision affects the rest of the script - you can deal with them. You can fix the structure by moving a few things around in their "proper order." You can rethink your dialogue and your characters perspective and your world.

Now that you see them - they are fixable.

And what's really fun is that there are now options you can see too: Traps you can lay. Surprises you can spring on your audience. New directions. Layering.

You can't see those options if you don't get that idea / treatment / first draft out on the page. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to get done... it needs to be fixable.

and the more you just do it and get it out of your system -- the more you write, then rewrite -- then the better you get at all stages of the game.


Andrew Bellware said...

Really? There are people who think that rewriting is the bitch? That's so not true for me -- it's only the writing that's the bitch.

I'd rather dig ditches than re-write. But I'd rather re-write than write, that's for sure.

TheGamut said...

Someone told me that, to be in the entertainment business, you cannot be afraid to make a fool of yourself. Could that be a stumbling block for people trying to get those first drafts out there?

Also in the spirit of vomiting ideas in volume for the first draft, could that unrestrained, no-holds-barred, never-look-back, never-say-die mentality realize ideas that a second guess could erroneously edit as a bad idea when it is really a good one? (Did I make any sense just now?)

Cunningham said...

Yes, Gamut - people slow their progress by thinking they have to be perfect right out of the gate.

It NEVER happens that way.

Unknown said...

The job of the first draft is not to be good, but to be done.

Huzzah on getting done!


Phantom of Pulp said...

Gritty post from the trenches, Bill.

I agree with TheGamut about vomiting. If you can learn to love what you vomit, and not be so eager to clean it up before you pick through it, first drafts can be very therapeutic.