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How to Get Through the First Draft

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on May 15, 2013 5:23:49 AM

Authors often get bogged down when writing the first draft of a novel. They'll stop and analyze the story. Step back and make changes. Rearrange, rearrange and rearrange. That's all fine and good if it doesn't keep you from completing a novel. If, however, you find yourself unable to finish a first draft because you're constantly looking back, stop. Just close your eyes and keep moving forward.


Here's what you need to realize about first drafts of novels: they are supposed to be bad. They are the version of your book very few people will see. My wife is the only person who ever sees the first version of my books, and she's only allowed to see it to let me know if I'm crazy or not. 


So, if first drafts are supposed to be bad, why would you spend so much time trying to make it perfect? What's the point? Think of the first draft as a sketch that comes before you take the brush to canvas and give color to your masterpiece. You are working out the kinks by doing what you do best: writing. If you find that looking back only discourages you from finishing a novel, don't look back; look forward. 


If you just write with reckless abandon, you'll more than likely have to scrap lines, paragraphs, characters, even chapters, but you should be doing that anyway. Don't spend your time crafting a first draft that will save you from rewrites. Write a first draft that will force you to do rewrites. Rewrites are your do-overs, and they'll still be there for you after the first draft is behind you. 


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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After the First Draft

AAUGH! Rewrites!

4,884 Views Tags: authors, novel, writers, writing, drafts, craft

May 15, 2013 10:25 AM KingsDaughter    says:

I loved this article as soon as I saw the tweet! "First drafts are supposed to be bad!" It's true! That's why they are called "ROUGH drafts". Rewrites are where the story grows and comes alive. I used to hate them. In fact, I think I saw the need to rewrite as an indicator of my failings, and no one wants to face those. Then I realized what amazing things a good, focused rewrite can do for a story. Now, I sit down to rewrite and get excited to see how the story will improve. Great post!

Dec 26, 2013 12:58 PM Starfish    says:

I find that "turning off my editor" while working on a first draft if both necessary and extremely difficult. I have to give myself permission to be rough or I can't get anything done.




Jun 30, 2014 11:11 PM sunislander    says:

It's good to read all your comments, especially the fact that "first drafts are supposed to be bad!" I have chucked away Draft 1, which bears little resemblance to the printed proof that arrived in the post yesterday! After endless revisions -- and quite a bit of additional costs incurred because of the revisions --- the printed proof complete with cover design arrived yesterday. I turned the pages with trembling fingers and a great deal of anticipation even though I had read 3 printed proofs of the book  -- and detected gross errors/typos/inconsistencies in every single one of them!  And yes, I spotted one more glaring error in the latest printed proof  yesterday ... I am not sure how that happened and have been attributing every single omission/typo/mistake to "my blind spot". Moving forward, I will pay more attention to the details in my 2nd book.

Jun 14, 2016 12:08 PM Zecane.Tethran    says in response to sunislander:

Thank you for saying the first draft is supposed to be bad. I had to laugh because you took a situation that was troubling me and actually made me laugh about it.