Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are You a Tortoise or a Hare?

Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare thought he could beat the tortoise easily because he moved so fast and the tortoise moved so sloooowwly. So they ran a race, the hare took a nap, and the tortoise crossed the finish line first. (A quick synopsis.)

You're probably thinking "She's lost her marbles. What on earth does this have to do with books and writing?" Let me tell you what my little brain sees in this fable.

First draft:

Many "how-to" books tell writers to hurry through the first draft, get your thoughts down, and then go back, flesh them out, work on details and style. This is the hare. He sees the finish line and runs for it, confident he'll win. But somewhere along the way life distracts him, and he tales a nap. I'm not saying writers get distracted. In fact, they zip along and complete their books, a lot quicker than I do mine. Like the hare finishes the race, the author finishes the book.This method works for them. I wish it did for me.

Alas, I am the tortoise. Something inside me hollers "Hold it. You can't go on to the next scene until this scene is fairly satisfactory." I don't mean it's perfect. Far from it. I still need to know more about my characters, about their wants, their problems. My plot and subplots need developing more fully. And I've spent a year or more on the first draft, while the hares are already on the third, fourth, or more edits of their stories.

I believe this is an individual thing. What do you think?

Which are you? A hare? Or a tortoise?

Whether you're a tortoise or a hare, happy writing.

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