Creating a Rough Draft is a lot like Building with Lego Bricks

I don’t normally open with my graphic alone but this one pretty much nails what it is like to create a rough draft without actually discussing writing. Here are four ways that building with Lego is like creating a rough draft.

You Start with a Plan

Every manuscript starts with some kind of idea or plan. And it is always A-MAZ-ING. Truly amazing.

But somewhere along the way, and if you are like me it doesn’t take all that long, you realize that something is missing. With Lego, it might be the wheels. With your story, it might be character motiviation, obstacles or consequences if she should fail to win. Whatever it is that is missing, you have to rethink your plan.

Strange Things Show Up

Once you start writing again, strange things show up. I’m writing a middle grade science fiction novel about space travel and so much more. Where the heck did this whale come from? I don’t know why but one of my characters has a fascination with whales which in a real person would be no big deal. But how does it tie into the story?

And my main character’s science fair project was about . . . gene sequencing? How is that going to help in space? In short, it is not. Some of the strange things may enrich your story but others are going to have to go. They are a lot like the Barbie shoe and the marbles that show up in the Lego box.

Missing Items

Finally your draft is chugging along – I have yet to reach this point – but then you realize that you can’t find any more red bricks. Where did they all go! They were just here a minute ago.

Maybe you are trying to stretch your beats too far. Or you need to add more conflict. Or one of your characters is going to have to grow a previously non-existent third arm to make the plot work. Whatever it is, at some point you are going to realize that you need to add something more to the story.

At Least It Is Done

In the end, your draft resembles has almost no resemblance to your original glorious plan. You thought you would build a futuristic car or a striking castle. What you built more closely resembles an out building, quite possibly an outhouse.

But that’s okay. Once you’ve drafted your story, you can always rework it. But there is no way to rework it until you get something on paper.

As they say, an awful lot of writing is rewriting just as a lot of building Lego is rethinking your original plan.