A brain dump is not a first draft
Clarity of ideas leads to clarity of writing. If your ideas are fuzzy, your writing will be too.
There’s a time and place for fuzzy writing. It’s called a brain dump and is the first stage of the writing process, where you jot down every single idea you ever had about the topic, no matter how crazy, and then let it rest for a while.
Even after an effective brain dump, often authors are still exploring ideas during the writing of their first drafts. Usually, but not always, the more you plan before you start, the less likely you will stumble during the writing phases. But for some writers, including me, the process of writing helps grow and expand my ideas. So keep that in mind… and don’t expect these early drafts to be anything startling.
Still, if you need your story out in a hurry, it’s better to plan a lot before you put pen to paper or finger to key. (Measure twice, cut once, and all that.)
Often at ASTT we receive manuscripts that are less-than half-baked. Sometimes the author knows this is the case and asks for help to clarify the thinking and strengthen the work. Other times the author is naïve to the work required to a) Come up with original ideas, b) Pull these ideas together coherently and c) Shape these into a story worthy of readers’ attention.
Steps ‘b’ and ‘c’ above are the work of the structural edit and need to be completed before the copy edit. Why? Because it’s no use copyediting (i.e. making the words and sentences sound fabulous) if you’re just going to throw the whole chapter out when you discover that it’s not relevant to this particular book.
If you know what you’re saying before you start writing, you’re less likely to use jargon, overwrite, get yourself in a tangle and use capitals inappropriately, and you’re more likely to know your own writing tics. Collectively, these ensure your writing is clearer, more succinct and more organised, which, in turn, means you save a lot of money on the copy edit.
May your words pour onto the page,