I’m coming to realize that I’m an anomaly in the writing world. Most writers, it seems, tend to write long and rambling first drafts, filled with monologues and banter and stuff that needs to be cut in the first draft. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing 10-minute plays of late—or maybe my first drafts are more like outlines that include bits of dialogue—but I have a tendency to write way short.
My first, random, “shitty first drafts” as Anne Lamott calls them, have speeches where people say stuff quickly, glide over things in their reactions, convince each other to do things way too easily—and it all generally comes out about 2/3 as long as the final draft.
Then when I revise, I dole information out more slowly, give the characters a chance to react to what’s in front of them, make people struggle to get information from each other, and the whole thing gets longer until I have a “real first draft” that’s the right length.
Of course, at that point, I’m just like everybody else and have to cut, add, revise, move and do all the usual stuff. But as far as that first stream-of-consciousness draft goes, I guess I’m sort of the anti-Kerouac.