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Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write.
There's pressure to come up with something genius every time. I feel like I keep letting myself down with my Twitter posts. I have to start keeping a journal of rough drafts of prophetic ideas about the world.
I wasn't involved, except to the degree that they sent me drafts of the script as the writer turned them in. They asked me at one point to write a memo about what I thought of it.
The greatest pleasure when I started making money was not buying cars or yachts but finding myself able to have as many freshly typed drafts as possible.
Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
My only writing ritual is to shave my head bald between writing the first and second drafts of a book. If I can throw away all my hair, then I have the freedom to trash any part of the book on the next rewrite.
The drafts which true genius draws upon posterity, although they may not always be honored so soon as they are due, are sure to be paid with compound interest in the end.
Charles Caleb Colton
I hate first drafts, and it never gets easier. People always wonder what kind of superhero power they'd like to have. I wanted the ability for someone to just open up my brain and take out the entire first draft and lay it down in front of me so I can just focus on the second, third and fourth drafts.
I write with a Uni-Ball Onyx Micropoint on nine-by-seven bound notebooks made by a Canadian company called Blueline. After I do a few drafts, I type up the poem on a Macintosh G3 and then send it out the door.
The bottom line is that I like my first drafts to be blind, unconscious, messy efforts; that's what gets me the best material.
Recently a study proved that working from a larger, less cluttered computer screen increases concentration. I could have told them that. And yes, I write first drafts with a mechanical pencil and a yellow legal pad. There's good reason for this primitive behavior: I am a crackerjack typist. My hand moves far more quickly than my brain.
I usually do at least a dozen drafts and progressively make more-conscious decisions. Because I've always believed stories are closer to poems than novels, I spend a lot of time on the story's larger rhythms, such as sentence and paragraph length, placement of flashbacks and dialogue.
I don't read anything electronically. I don't write electronically, either - except e-mails to my family and friends. I write in longhand. I have always written first drafts by hand, but I used to write subsequent drafts and insert pages on a typewriter.
The first drafts of my novels have all been written in longhand, and then I type them up on my old electric. I have resisted getting a computer because I distrust the whole PC thing. I don't think a great book has yet been written on computer.
J. G. Ballard
I don't think anything I've written has been done in under six or eight drafts. Usually it takes me a few years to write a book. 'World's Fair' was an exception. It seemed to be a particularly fluent book as it came. I did it in seven months. I think what happened in that case is that God gave me a bonus book.
E. L. Doctorow
Every poem probably has sixty drafts behind it.
I keep the drafts of each poem in color-coded folders. I pick up the folders according to how I feel about that color that day.
This is not a screenplay. I don't do twenty drafts. I'm not going to show this to you until it's published or accepted for publication. You can make whatever suggestions you want, but I probably will ignore them entirely.
Robert B. Parker
In my office in Florida I have, I think, 30 manuscript piles around the room. Some are screenplays or comic books or graphic novels. Some are almost done. Some I'm rewriting. If I'm working with a co-writer, they'll usually write the first draft. And then I write subsequent drafts.
I am violently untidy. My desk is overcrowded. I write my first drafts in longhand in a long notebook using a plastic throwaway fountain pen. Then I work on a word processor using a different desk and a different room.
I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them - without a thought about publication - and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.
Perhaps it is because I'm a writer trained in history that I've always assumed I would make mistakes in my drafts. Historians know how faulty human memory can be.
One of the things I noticed more in this draft than in any recent drafts was the importance of the character issue. Players who had baggage, like Justice, fell much farther than his talent dictated. But a lot of coaches didn't want to take the chance.
I haven't had trouble with writer's block. I think it's because my process involves writing very badly. My first drafts are filled with lurching, cliched writing, outright flailing around. Writing that doesn't have a good voice or any voice. But then there will be good moments.
You know, my first three or four drafts, you can see, are on legal pads in long hand. And then I go to a typewriter, and I know everybody's switching to a computer. And I'm sort of laughed at.
C. S. Lewis
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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