The joy of getting a totally wonky first draft done

I've just hit one of the most amazing points in writing a book: I've finished my crappy first draft. This isn't a draft that I'd be willing to show my editor, or even anyone else. Far, far cry from that.

This is the draft where I start trying for some semblance of order. I'm a very intuitive, free-form writer. So I start writing by what my lovely friend Bruce Coville calls "barfing on the page." And another pal, Deborah Brodie, more tastefully calls "dessert first." (Funny that they are both eating/un-eating metaphors.) The basic idea is just get something down. Write down snippets of scenes, put bits of character tags down. You can do the hard work later.

Then after I have masses and masses of this stuff, I start trying to arrange it which is absolutely my weak point as a writer. (and as a human, I have to honestly say.) I write up big charts on a huge piece of butcher paper taped on my wall, I go through stacks of post-its. I whine a lot during this stage. And despair. Eat huge amounts of chocolate, the darker the better.

Then I begin putting everything in some kind of order. So I've got scenes in first person and scenes in third. Characters inexplicably come and go, and my main character has a split personality from having so many different, weird issues. There are giant, looming empty spots and optimistic little notes that begin with "TK" journalist speak for To Come. (Don't ask me about the TK/TC thing, because I have no idea.) Last year I took a class from Dennis Foley (very kick-ass, no whining allowed) at and this was one of his helpful hints. Put in TK -- you can search for it later -- and keep moving.

So now I have 59,997 words, of which probably 58,997 will need to be replaced at least once and probably two or three times, but I have a START.

Next up: another Bruce-ism: "run your character up a tree and throw rocks at her." I've done that. Now, I'm clueless how to get her down more-or-less in one piece.