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Writing the Vomit Draft

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Article by Caren Kennedy © 14 February 2012.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

To V or not to V?  That is the question posed by Fenella Greenfield of Euroscript – a question that applies equally well to the drafting of novels and short stories, as it does screenplays. 

If you’re the type of writer who likes to write Act One over and over again (until you’ve noticed it’s Christmas – again – and you’re still not past page 30) then the so-called Vomit Draft (VD) might be something to consider.

The VD should be completed in ten to fourteen days max (otherwise you’re in danger of turning it into an exceptionally bad First Draft).

And the benefits are?

Writing is re-writing, but what they don’t tell you is:  ‘Re-writing is fun; Writing is Torture’.  With the VD you get the nasty part of filling those blank pages over with as quickly as possible so you can CUT to the fun re-writing part more quickly.

The other great benefit of writing the VD is by the end of ten days you can still remember all your characters’ names and why they’re supposed to be in this film.

What about the problems?

The VD can be so excruciatingly bad it’s hard not to lose heart – whenever you’re ready to slit your wrists, repeat after me:  ‘In this draft, I’m the whore so I can be the artiste in the next’.

You’re also in danger of developing RSI as you type like a demented person for ten days.  Get over it – do Olympic athletes complain about thigh pain?

Here are some tips on how to Vomit successfully …

Preparation is all:

Make sure you know where you’re going and how your film ends by answering all the questions in my Movie Checklist.

Time to get writing:

  • Set aside a holiday – it needs to be ten to fourteen days in length – and so boring, nothing will distract you, especially alcohol and bezzie mates.
  • Get into a military regime from day one for example:  get up at 6am – write until 12 noon. Post lunchtime, poolside recovery nap is allowed as long as you . . .
  • WRITE TEN PAGES A DAY, MINIMUM.  And when feeling disheartened …
  • Repeat after me: ‘I can do this, I can do this’.

Well done!

It’s two weeks later and you’ve completed your Vomit Draft.  Before you get down to your official FIRST DRAFT, take anotherholiday, with loads of alcohol and bezzie mates as a congratulatory thank you to yourself.

About the author

Fenella Greenfield completed her first Vomit Draft during Script Frenzy with Euroscript  in April 2011 whilst on what otherwise would have been an exceptionally boring holiday.  She still hasn’t dared read it.


Follow Caren online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

CAREN KENNEDY runs writing.ie's Word Play blog and is the creator of a television series currently in pre-production with Warner Bros TV and co-author of Fake Alibis (BenBella Books, 2009). As well as being a regular contributor to Journal.ie, publishing credits include local, national and international publications. In conjunction with The Inkwell Group, Caren also gives one-to-one mentoring on how to begin writing for television in her online course: http://www.inkwellwriters.ie/workshops/writing-tv-treatments. She is represented in the US by Vamnation Entertainment and TriadaUS Literary Agency.