Unlike me, I’m sure most writers never have any trouble finishing a first draft. Okay, maybe a couple do.
I like to tinker, play, and revise to distraction. In fact, I sat on the opening three chapters of my first novel for about a hundred years.
Years, anyway. Quite a few of them.
Which brings me to today’s subject. First drafts. How do you go about writing them? What’s your best advice to a newbie on the subject?
I’ve found the best way for me is to rush through them – write every day until they’re done, and then take a break. NaNoWriMo is perfect for this.
So my advice: Get it on the page – it doesn’t matter how good or bad it is. You can fix it later.
Here’s some more great advice you might like to consider:
“Your first draft is your plan or outline. It’s much easier to take your ideas and characters out for a spin in the virtual world of an outline rather than manage hundreds of pages of a rough manuscript that may end up going nowhere.” Luke Mercieca
“Bad news is, it will suck because you’re not perfect. Good news is, you can make it better. Even better news is, that means you don’t have to worry about what you write. The first draft is for yourself and yourself only.” Era Metko
“The first draft of a manuscript lies in the midst of a great journey. What you do next will make all the difference.” Chantelle Griffin
“A large part of what goes into a first draft will not appear
in the finished work.” Giulio Zambon
“You will see things that need to change, how a different structure would enhance a scene or a chapter. Take notes, move on, and make those changes in revision.” Gerri Lynn Baxter
“Chapters 1, 2 & 3 are about to become Chapters 2, 3, 1 & 4. Oh yeah and you need to tear out most of them and re-write, because they’re bad.” Charles Murray
“In the middle of the draft, if it gets hard or boring or you feel like it’s the worst thing anyone’s ever written, that’s completely normal. Keep on writing anyway.” Kyra Halland
“You might end up rewriting 90 per cent of it, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid of it.” L.K. Evans
“Writing is like making a jigsaw puzzle without an image of the finished work, and the first draft is like working on the edges of the puzzle and on the parts you can easily recognise. Expecting to be able to write a first draft from the beginning to end is like attempting to solve a puzzle from top-left to bottom-right.” Giulio Zambon
“You’ll discover so much more about your world, characters, plot than you had planned. And that’s okay. Don’t try to force it into a box, even if you do have an outline.” Vanessa Maclellan
“Don’t get distracted by little details that you think you should fix – keep the momentum going and save your edits for later.” Drew Briney
“You can get port in goon-bags.” JW Arlock
“First Drafts are first drafts. It may only be a very small step on a very long journey especially if your intension is to write a series and its the first book. The first draft may be an experiment to see if the plot works or even an expedition to discover both the plot and the characters, and after a analysing it you might find yourself transplanting these elements into a decent story structure…” Mark Mercieca
“Don’t waste time trying to polish up a first draft.” Giulio Zambon
“You’ll get bogged down somewhere around the middle. Don’t give up. Push through, and finish it.” Keith Keffer
And there you have it. I think the general consensus is ‘just write it and worry about making it great later’.
What’s your advice?
If you liked this post, check out some of the other posts in the “Things I Wish I Knew About” series: Author Promotion, Point Of View, Critiquing, Dealing With Rejection, Editing Your Own Work, Short Stories, Creating Characters, Story Development, Worldbuilding and Writing.