The First Draft Decision

My Troubled Kid


All of us approach draft one in our own way. It’s like meeting someone for the first time. Some of us tip-toe through the introduction while others are eager to jump right in.

A few weeks ago I received good news from a friend that she had completed draft one. It only took her six weeks and a few bumpy roads consisting of minor scrapes and bruises and the occasional trip to the emergency room.

Other than that it was a marvelous success.

I replied to her with the proper congratulatory e-mail full of smiley faces and pretend hugs. The day got worse when another writer notified me of her first draft completion as well.

This one outdid the first one. Five weeks and not an injury in sight.


And then there was me

trouble 4

With the completion of book one I ventured on to book two. In my mess of notes I had several story ideas in front of me. I knew I could only choose one. Unlike a few who can write two novels at the same time I’m a one novel writing kind of guy.

 I took my time with the choice I would make. As you know writing a novel is a long process. It is a relationship and as with any relationship it’s wise not to jump in before giving it some serious thought.

I narrowed it down to two choices. It didn’t take long before I saw something.


Good vs. Clumsy as hell

trouble 2

Of my two choices one of my ideas was somewhat easy in terms of first draft. The puzzle was laid out. The pieces in place and the dots easily connected. I could see the beginning, middle and end as easy as I could see the leaves falling off a nearby tree.

I would finish it in five weeks. Six tops. Maybe a month if the path was smooth. I could contact my two showoff friends and do a little boasting myself.

Then there was my second option. The puzzle not so clear. The dots not so bright and the storyline not the smoothest of travels.

But something caught my eye.


My Kids

In many ways our stories are our kids. We pay attention to those we worry about the most. We’re happy for the good, responsible one but sometimes we secretly admire the bad one. They have no borders, have zero time management skills and are probably incapable of lying no matter how bad you wish they sometimes would.

So there I stood. My two choices in front me. To my right my one kid had it all. He had friends, a job and no trouble on the horizon. He also paid off his car.

And to my left stood my trouble. She loved the dangerous crowd. She invited loose ends and she was always bumming a ride. To make matters worse I’m pretty sure she was dating the drummer.

trouble 3

Good God, my kid is the bad girl.


The choice was easy

As I separated the pages in front of me I saw my fingers pull certain pages close while pushing others away. Before I knew it I was placing the good kid in a folder promising him not to worry.

I gave my troubled kid a long look. She was full of plot holes, she wasn’t clear what she wanted and she didn’t know where she wanted to go.

But there was something else that drew me to her.   


Just like me

Unlike my first kid who clearly took after his mother, the troubled one was all me. She had a good heart, a decent soul and was always forgetting to call if she was running late.

But I knew she meant well.

As I collected my notes and placed her in front of me I knew we’d figure this out. She was a mess and we had a lot of work to do but she was my mess.

So now I wonder: Am I drawn to troubled stories that remind me of the worst I have to offer? Slightly mixed up, hopelessly lost and a laugh that is way too loud.


But who cares. Life is short and sometimes a loud laugh is the only music in town.

trouble 6


26 thoughts on “The First Draft Decision

  1. Love how you’ve compared drafts to kids, Bryan. It’s always the one most like you that brings the trouble 😊. I’m a one story at a time writer too. And the only time I’ve finished a first draft in six weeks was when it was the fourth book in my series and I knew the characters and world so well it just kind of wrote itself. Kudos to the writers who can knock out a first draft in record time, every time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know it might make you cringe, but when I actually sit to write (which is like never) I can get a first draft done is like an afternoon haha!! But I’m not writing novels.

    Even your blog posts about writing have such a stylized way about them – your book is going to be great!


  3. I’m really happy for people who finish first drafts quickly, but at the same time, quite jealous. There’s also the question of quality. I’m sure some quick first drafts are amazing, but not all.


  4. How inspiring! The story you’ve chosen to write sounds like it’ll lead to a wonderful and gratifying experience. Though the path may not seem like it’ll be smooth (or maybe it will, after all?!), it will make you stretch and grow as a writer. I think it’s great. (Hmm…Maybe I need to rethink my approach to the “troubled kid” book ideas on my list.)


  5. Love the comparison to your children, you always write such engaging posts.
    I’m sure you’ll wrangle your novel into shape, something’s simply need more nurturing. 😊


  6. Lol your analogy of your two drafts is awesome. I can understand why you were drawn to dealing with the trouble daughter. 😊


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