i'm taking a creative writing seminar right now as part of my B.A. in English lit, and every week we talk about the readings we have to do. they're all about fiction and writing, filled with examples and tips and advice and prompts. since i'm not sure what to talk about here, i figured i'd post them here for you people (if you exist) to read and comment on. the next one will be up in a couple of days.
While doing the readings for this week I found myself enjoying Hodgins’ A Passion for Narrative more than the others. I think it’s because I found it more accessible, and the language, to me, is a lot less formal than Wood’s How Fiction Works. With A Passion for Narrative, it feels like the writer is speaking directly to me and not to a general sense of ‘everyone.’
I was fascinated by Hodgins’ comments on the first draft, and how you should “[w]rite the first draft for no one by yourself. Write to find out what you’re writing about” (38). I heard someone say this at a writers’ conference, and I thought it was an interesting concept.
There’s something special about first drafts. You’re taking an idea, which may or may not be good, and you’re turning it into a story. It’s becoming something far more tangible than just an idea circling around inside your head, and it’s on its way to becoming an actual short story or novel.
When I first start writing after finding an idea that’s excited me enough to want to write about it, I do get emotionally involved. It’s something I created, something I had to search hard for inside my head, and it becomes important to me.
Hodgins’ idea is one I hope to use for all my future fiction writing. I hope it’ll help me distance myself from what I write, which will hopefully make self-editing easier. Keeping the first draft for myself lets me write it just for me, and then when I finish it, I can go back, look at it, and hopefully find areas to change that will make more people enjoy it.