A writing post-mortem

Posted on | February 18, 2009

Yesterday, I posted a very silly bit of Dr. Who fanfic to my livejournal.  It was quite literally the first thing out of my head.  I was putting daughter Kouryou-chan to bed, and she was whining that she hadn’t had time to read.  I explained to her that we’d used up the time playing board games and now it was bed time.  She’s fond of clever wordplay, and as we were going back and forth with her protests and my stern, parental admonitions of sleep, an idea struck me that I had to write it down.

After I turned out her bedroom light, I sat down with my laptop in my lap and hammered out the story in one very quick draft, less than half an hour really.  I needed very fast furniture for my ridiculous idea, which involved time travel, something the audience could “get” quickly.  Dr. Who was the perfect setting.  I ran it through a spell-check and hit “Publish.”

Looking back, that was probably a mistake.  There’s a lot wrong with the story.  I made my first mistake of writing: I failed to read the story aloud.  That alone would have improved the story greatly; I would have seen how Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen’s voices were mangled.  Sarah uses “why” much more often than “how,” yet I used “how” in my story. Baker was much more expressive with his hands, face, and body than the story implies.  The meter-long cylinder in the Doctor’s hands needed a little more attention, as did conveying just how disgusting the infestation of insects was to poor Sarah.

Still, it worked reasonably well.  Lesson learned, again: first drafts are first drafts.  Read your work aloud.  Be critical after the draft.  Convey character first, and everything else will follow.

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