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Speaking of first drafts…

October 29, 2009

…I really love this video, which I found on Mark Sarvas’s excellent blog The Elegant Variation. Here Philip Roth talks to Tina Brown about the first draft, which he likens to building a floor. Tina Brown calls it a ‘vomit draft’. I like both analogies, and both ways of thinking about the first draft  –  a building block or something to get out of you as quickly as you can – help to demystify the whole process, at least for this budding novelist.

The way Philip Roth described his process was also heartening – he doesn’t plan out his story to the nth degree, instead he takes something like a phrase and works on that from there. It’s nice to know that he doesn’t use an elaborate system of wall charts and coloured pens to outline his work before he starts, but just gets stuck in and the story comes to him during the writing of it. And that he does a lot of rewriting, but gets the first draft out of the way.

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