This past week, I started writing the third in my Laurel Highlands Mysteries series. (No, it doesn’t have a title yet. I almost never start with a title – a post for another day.)
Anyway, I am in the midst of what I call “Draft Zero.” If I haven’t talked about this here, think any other “zero” out there. Patient Zero is where the epidemic starts. Ground Zero is where the disaster “starts.” Draft Zero is where the story starts.
By it’s very nature, Draft Zero is messy. Unwieldy. What I am writing is pure dreck. No, let me rephrase that. It’s not dreck. It’s…unformed. There’s a story in there somewhere. I just need to find it. Vomit up all those words onto the virtual page. Then the real work starts.
Because Draft Zero doesn’t sparkle. There’s too much other stuff. Unnecessary words, often whole scenes. Maybe even whole characters. Or maybe something is missing. I won’t know until it’s done.
As I write, the Inner Editor chides me. “That was a really awkward phrase.” “Are you sure you want to use that word?” “Her reasoning here is awfully weak.” And on, and on, and on. I’ve become pretty good about shutting her in a closet. Or at least telling her to be quiet for now. But I have to tell her every. stinking. time.
Draft Zero is not her time. It’s my time. No one will ever see this. Not even my critique group. They’ll see the First Draft, after I’ve taken some time to cut and hack my way to the story. Before they pressure me to make it better.
Because, like a diamond, that’s what makes a story sparkle. The pressure of revision. Critique by trusted friends. But that time will come. Sparkle is for tomorrow.
Today is my time with Draft Zero.