“Yes, and” Your Way to an Interesting Book

A concern some people have when they get ready to write is that they don’t have enough to say on their topic.

What works for me is to apply a basic principle of theatrical improvisation (Improv) to my writing.

My first draft is usually pretty basic, reminiscent of Joe Friday in the early police drama on TV. He started many of his conversations with the phrase “Just the facts, ma’am.”

My first drafts are frequently not much more than an outline written in sentence form. The next two drafts create something more interesting to read.

The Improv principle I incorporate in my revisions is “yes, and.” Another way of thinking of this is to affirm and expand.

With the second draft I affirm the information in my outline, adding more details to create a firmer foundation for my message.

With my third draft I expand my topic. I add more possibilities, including variations on my theme.

By the time I am done, I have moved from my bare bones outline to an interesting piece for my reader. By working through three drafts (sometimes more to do further expansion) I don’t get frozen in place, unable to move forward.

This used to happen to me when I tried to achieve everything I wanted in just one draft. I knew my “just the facts” version wasn’t what I wanted and I knew it was hard for me to write more than that the first time through. So I would put off starting because I knew I wouldn’t be happy with my first draft.

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