Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with part two of why first drafts sucks. This is something that I think all writers go through in every stage in the writing process. Writing first drafts are the norm when it comes to writing in general. I have heard many stories about authors who have written perfectly good first drafts when it comes to their work but the majority of the time, the first drafts…suck.
In order to back up my theory, I had wrote a post called ‘Why First Drafts Suck, Part One” which details the feedback I received from my professor in my Thesis Writing One class I am currently taking at Southern New Hampshire University. If you want to see the latest post, Click down on the link below for more information.
Why First Drafts Suck, Part One
Now, onto part two of this piece.
The following notes are based on the feedback my professor gave me when I sent the next 10,000 words of A Phiman’s Betrayal to her for the next round of critiques. Enjoy!
So as I said in my announcement about this second go-round, I’m going to do my best to keep my comments this overview with none in the text. I am doing that because I don’t want to overwhelm you while you’re drafting, yet I want you to be thinking about things as you continue forward. I think that this (sort of lengthy) overview will be more useful to you as you go forward and then revise, plus you can see all my comments in one place.
Plot: I was a little confused by the beginning with the games. The idea that Operation would help her in her medical field was honestly ridiculous. That really stopped me in my tracks. I can see it being fun, especially for medical students. But as a tool for learning—I just can’t believe it. That, and then later when Shawn decides that a) Jacob should apply for the internship b) that he’d actually get it, and c) that he’d get it that fast are all so improbable as to be ridiculous. There’s no good explanation for why Evita would be out and him in. He has absolutely no medical background or experience so unless they were bribed and they are all corrupt, she wouldn’t be out. And then, why her and not a different internship?
She says she’s late for her interview because she was out having fun. Really? Who would say that on such an important occasion? That’s just not believable. And she’s thinking of Liam instead of what’s going on. I was also wondering why, if she’s got the internship, she has to interview? Is it because it’s renewed and she has to interview each year? Once they put the money and effort into her, if she’s doing a great job as she is, then why would they drop her? It doesn’t make a lot of sense from a business perspective, or a medical one.
They aren’t taking a lot about who or why someone would attack her and why she couldn’t read them. Nor is there much discussion of her mother’s murder or Jacob’s betrayal. She doesn’t seem to really feel anything. Even when she talks about the kiss, she doesn’t seem to feel much. It’s all told and and on the surface, rather than delving into emotion.
Chapter five doesn’t seem to be doing enough work for you in the book. It needs more conflict and tension to really grab the reader.
You give her a ticking clock, which is excellent. She has to transform soon. But there doesn’t seem to be follow through urgency. She sees Liam, then Wen, then has the phone call, then goes to class. The ticking clock and threat of her transformation goes away. Don’t let it.
She and Wen need to dig deeper in their interaction. Once again, Wen feels betrayed, and she may decide to bring up Jacob and ask why Evita felt okay going after Liam when she has a fiance? And if she has a reason to know of the breakup (Shawn no doubt tells her, but she wouldn’t want Evita to know that), then she’d be all over Evita for doing to her what Jacob did to Evita. Evita wouldn’t have any defenses and would feel all that guilt and that would make her back off from Liam even more.
Evita: As I said above, very little about her is revealed in terms of her inner world, her emotional journey, her conflicts, and so on. It’s mostly told.
Jacob: I love that he’s suspicious of Shawn and following through on trying to find something out, but at the same time, he’s passive in a lot of ways and lets Shawn run over him a bit. He still doesn’t have much thought for Evita or what he did and it’s only been one day. He liked her and he should feel some kind of guilt and embarrassment.
Why is he not more angry that Shawn shoves him in a direction he doesn’t want to go and doesn’t listen to him really? He needs to feel more obsessive of Shawn or have some believable reason for allowing it and doing what he has to do to keep Shawn. Or Shawn has to be more manipulative and controlling.
His interaction with Evita just doesn’t ring true. They’ve only been broken up for a day. He cheated on her and she caught him. He acts high and might and she acts like she’s doing something wrong by confronting him. She needs more fire in this situation.
Also Shawn says: “Getting into the medical field is way easier than selling real estate.” On what planet? That really doesn’t make any sense.
I am not sure why Jacob’s psychic powers aren’t working, but it’s wonderful conflict that the don’t. He’s struggling. Does he worry they won’t come back? Or why they are gone?
Liam: As I said before, his fixation on being the one to save Evita is obsessive and strange. Why does he need to be the only one? Why does he act as if she’s incapable or nobody else should be involved? It’s almost like he’s trying to isolate her, which comes off as more abusive than loving. You don’t want that.
He starts to argue with himself about whether to get involved with another woman. That’s something to amplify and pull in earlier.
Why doesn’t he challenge Wen on betraying their secret relationship? He really backs down from that. Jazu says that she’s telling everyone, so he’s got to distance himself and he’s got to be angry about it. He seems the type that would go on the attack when he’s cornered and Wen is trying to corner him. He’d really get cutting, is my bet, which would give her fuel to hurt him in revenge, not just Evita.
You repeat a lot that they are best friends. You don’t need to. Show it and the reader will get it.
Shawn: When he starts to think that Jacob is becoming a problem, he should be conflicted about his feelings and the great sex, v. Jacob interfering. He should be trying to decide what he has to do about Jacob. His solution may be to kill him, but you want to show that he could do that and that he’s dangerous and unpredictable. That makes him really interesting.
Wen: I’m still not buying her total insta-hatred for Evita, and why, with Shawn apparently beating the crap out of her, she isn’t angry with him. She’s more angry with Evita and that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me within her character.
There’s a lot of talk about Evita and Liam being best friends, but it doesn’t seem like it. Their interactions, their conversations, they don’t seem all that friendly. It seems kind of unfriendly a lot of the time and they don’t have interactions that seem to come from long familiarity and friendship.
Worldbuilding: More concrete, specific detail about where they are and what the place is like is so needed to situate the reader.
I can really see where you’re going with this, but right now your characters are a bit on the shallow side and more feeling needs to come through. On top of that, some of your plot elements just don’t hold water and when a reader runs into something that just doesn’t make sense, they will often just stop reading, not to mention leave bad reviews. You want everything to make sense. Plot is a causal sequence of events. A happens because B happens, and B happens because C happens, and so on. There has to be a causal relationship that makes sense to the reader.
Truth is no excuse for fiction. So things that happen in real life may be true, but a reader won’t accept them as fiction because they don’t make sense. And if they don’t make sense to the reader, then you lose them.
As always, if you’ve got questions or would like to discuss anything, let me know and we can set up a time to talk.
Keep on Writing! You’re doing great.
Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/ for more information.