Word Hemorrhage: my attempt at the “zero draft.”

(Since I am currently without a writing project, I decided that I could take the time to write a post every day while my first draft ages a bit. So if you’re not sick of me yet, you soon will be)

In case you didn’t see my trumpeting it from the Twitter rooftops, I just finished the first draft of my latest story. This marks the death of a significant stretch of writer’s block, so I’m kind of making a big deal about it. Ding dong, the block is dead. (Let us not say “The block is dead, long live the block”)

This project was important in another way: it was my experiment with a zero draft.

I got the idea from a post on Chuck Wendig’s blog. I haven’t read much of the man’s fiction yet(just a short story collection), but I am a fan of his writing advice.

I attempted two methods of zero drafting. First, I tried writing in a script format, which is something I wanted to do for a while anyway. Got one scene done that way. Second, I completely shut off my internal editor and poet (the guy who wants to make everything perfect and the guy who wants to use all the fancy language) and just wrote. No questioning my word choice, no worrying about “show vs. tell.” Just writing hard and fast, getting the story down, maybe stumbling upon an occasional sensory detail I’d expand upon later. Here’s how it went down, metaphorically speaking.

Step 1: Sharpened my pen.

Step 2: Cut myself open.

Step 3: Bleed the art all over the page.

And it is the second method that really got my through the story. There was a time when I wasn’t as excited for the story as when I first began it. I think zero drafting helped me through that feeling. By turning off my filters and focusing on the flow of the plot, rather than word choice and detail, I got a better feel for how the story should go. There might be more work to do when the second draft rolls around because of this fast, loose style, but if I can avoid any major plot revisions from here on, it will be worth it.

Quick note: I did have notes and an outline prior to starting the zero draft, so it wasn’t really “pantsing.” I prefer to have a plan in place, even if I alter it later.

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