As you can see in a previous post, I was really excited over the pitch critiques going on at the BookEnds blog. I learned from reading the examples that were being critiqued, and I got excited to see what my pitch would look like.
That's right- I wrote my entire first draft without knowing what my pitch was. Well, I thought, now's the perfect time. I know what happens! I've learned who the characters are! This is going to be great! To my dismay, it wasn't. I couldn't write a pitch about the story I had because I couldn't identify the conflict. As I started looking at the story, I realized that was because I didn't really have a villain. I have a weakness for bad guys, and wound up making the villain too sympathetic.
All the way through the first draft, I kept telling myself, "it's a first draft. I can clean this- and thisandthisandthis- up later." Well, it's later. And I've finally noticed that I have a mess on my hands. It's a well-written mess- I keep consoling myself with that. I can see a real improvement in my writing throughout, so by the last four chapters, the writing is clean and the characters are decisive and the plot keeps moving along. (Yes, I'm trying to make myself feel better.)
Writing is a learning experience. When I started this adventure, the most I had written at one time was ten pages- the beginning of a short story for a college writing class. Of course I'm not going to get it right the first time. But I'm not going to give up either. I'm going to learn everything I can from each mistake, and apply it the next time.
What I learned this time is that I need to work out the pitch- or the premise, as I'll call it in my next post- before I ever start writing. I'm not saying this will work for everyone. But I've found out that without the guidance of a pitch, I don't really know where I'm going, or what point I'm trying to make. A good premise should be able to focus that story like a magnifying glass focuses the sun. The result of my first draft is a fun read- but it's like gentle sunshine: pleasant, but I wanted to fry the ant.