Monday, February 11, 2013

Gross bodily functions and how they apply to writing

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Hi peeps,

Cassandra Dean here, ready and willing to talk about the Secrets of the Craft of Writing. So give me the clandestine handshake, make sure your patented Secrets of the Craft of Writing pointed hat is firmly on your head, and prepare to be Flabbergasted! Dumb-founded! Amazed! and so on and so forth.

Right. So. Have you heard about the Vomit Draft?

Sounds really gross, but it would have to be the most accurate term I’ve ever heard for a first draft. I first heard this phrase bandied about by Felicia Day and immediately had to adopt it as my own, in all it’s awesomenessness (It’s a word, I promise. Don’t listen to what your dictionary says). The Vomit Draft is the draft where you throw words on a page and see what sticks. Getting the idea down is half the battle. We can prettify it later (again, another word.  My dictionary is not objecting, so maybe it is an actual word. Crazy what you learn in life, isn’t it?).

When I first started this caper, many moons ago, I tried to make my first page perfect. I’d spend eons agonising over the correct word usage, on if this word is better than that and shouldn’t there be a comma there? Never mind that I hadn’t written all the way to the end of the book, the middle of the book or even the next chapter.  I had to get that first page RIGHT and I COULD NOT move on with the story until I did.

This is probably why I never did finish that first manuscript. The first draft is SUPPOSED to be overwhelmingly awful. It is the mess you vomit (to coin a rather gross phrase) to get the bones of the story out before you go back and add the pretty words that will make the story you see in your head resonate with your  reader. 

So really, I didn’t need to make the first scene beautiful before moving on. I didn’t need to have the perfect turn of phrase to describe my character, or even have a definitive idea of who my character was. After all, the characters’ motivations might change as the story takes shape on the page and all that perfecting would have been for nothing.

Nora Roberts has said, quite brilliantly in my opinion, “You can fix a bad page, you can’t fix a blank page.”  So very true.  The ideas swimming around in your head need to be put on the page before you can refine them into exactly the form you want your audience to take them. Make the first draft spectacularly awful. Do the stream of consciousness thing, don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or even if it makes sense.  Just get the feeling of what you want down. Refinement can come later.

Keep in mind, everyone vomits.  Anyone who says they don’t is trying to sell you something.

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Christmas in Freewill

Christmas Eve, the Diamond Saloon is empty of its people, and Pearl la Monte has a hankering to retire early. A pounding at the Diamond’s door rids her of such a fool notion. Her irritation rises when she sees the prissy, polite-like Garrett standing outside.

Ethan Garrett has a powerful need to gain succor. When the saloon’s voluptuous redheaded singer scowls at him from the threshold of the Diamond, he doesn’t stop to think on how his ire at her has disappeared. Or how he just wants to spend some time in her company.

When a blizzard storms in, trapping them, will they spend their time arguing or find their irritation for each other disguises something more?

Available from Decadent Publishing


Turning on her heel, Pearl marched off toward the stairs.

A weird kind of panic jolted through Ethan, one he’d never felt before in all his days. It was…he didn’t…. She couldn’t leave him. “Where are you going?”

She whirled to face him, her irritation plain. “I was seeking my bed before your arrival, and now I’m seeking it again. Help yourself to whiskey this one time. I got better things to do.”

Shoving to his feet, he strode to her. “Don’t just walk away when we’re discussing things.”

“We ain’t discussing nothing. You’ll be down here, waiting out the blizzard. I’ll be in my bed, doing what I was gonna before you arrived. That’s the end of it.”

Taking a step, she made to leave him. Again.

He grabbed her arm. “Don’t leave me.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.” Glaring at him, she stood before the bar, her magnificent hair slipping from its pins, her breasts rising and falling.

Abruptly, his mouth went dry. Clearing his throat some, he said, “You’re supposed to offer succor to those in need.”

“We’re closed, remember?” Paint-less lips pressed tight together, she glared up at him.

They were so close he could see the faint marks of freckles on her skin.

Pearl La Monte had freckles.

A kind of haze came over him, tightening his skin and bringing with it something all-fired powerful and completely unstoppable. All the years he’d known her crashed through him, all the times she’d flirted with him and meant something else, all the times he’d seen her perform on stage and wished he could have held such fire.

Grabbing her upper arms, he hauled her against him and, ignoring her shocked gasp, he covered her mouth with his.

Cassandra grew up daydreaming, inventing fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures. Once she learned to read (First phrase – To the Beach. True story), she was never without a book, reading of other people’s fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures.

Fairy tales, Famous Fives, fantasies and fancies; horror stories, gumshoe detectives, science fiction; Cassandra read it all. Then she discovered Romance and a true passion was born.
So, once upon a time, after making a slight detour into the world of finance, Cassandra tried her hand at writing. After a brief foray into horror, she couldn’t discount her true passion. She started to write Romance and fell head over heels.

The love affair exists to this very day.

Cassandra lives in Adelaide, South Australia.


Barbara Elsborg said...

I'd let NO ONE see my first attempt - it could have been written by a five year old - honestly. What I like best is polishing the piece of rock to make it shine - hopefully!!

Cassandra dean said...

I know, right? That first draft is definitely For My Eyes Only. It makes sense only to me, has shortcuts and modern terminology that is there only to serve as a reminder to me, and bits like "and then they all went over a mountain and stuff happens - add later".