Thursday 14 July 2022

Summer Writing Series Part 2: The First Draft

First Draft

I love delving into my own world. For me, the best day of writing is when I have escaped into a new reality, breathing, seeing, and hearing what my characters experience. For this reason, I let myself go, without rereading, forgetting about editing until later. Terry Pratchett says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Revel in this. If you find it difficult, remember you can change anything and everything later. For now, just go! Don’t self-edit, don’t tell yourself you are being ridiculous, simply play. No criticism allowed!


I haven’t used a specific organizational format for any of my novels. I jot down, as quickly as possible, whatever I know about the novel as I go – a character sketch, a brief plot line, even a conversation. 

I think I could improve here. I plan to use Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat outline before I start my next novel. I used it after my latest works in progress were completed. I also continue drafting throughout the book.

For a while, I left a synopsis whenever I stopped writing for the day. One or two sentences about where to go next. I also keep a character journal where I keep track of details about each character – age, hair colour, favourite phrase, names of friends, siblings, or pets.

Finishing the first draft

Finishing the first draft is so exciting! But one of my problems is that I anticipate this completion and tend to rush my endings. Knowing this, I try to draw the ending out. Again, Save The Cat has helped me in this area. Brody has a very specific set of steps necessary for the ending. I have used her process to help me revise my ending, but I’m hoping my next book ending will be smoother if I plan first. 

I think it's important to celebrate this momentous occasion. I like to keep track of the days I write, how many words I write, and when I complete each draft in a little notebook. Perhaps this is the schoolteacher in me. I like to see what I’ve done – to keep a record of my work. When I finish the first draft, I like to go out for dinner with my husband, or at least buy myself a fancy coffee.

Does any of this sound like your writing process? I'd love to know.

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