Friday, October 24, 2014

First Step, First Draft

I noted the quote and picture above posted on facebook today by Authors Publish. I am not endorsing them but take a look at the webisite if you have any interest. The quote here inspired me to write about first drafts today.

I've known beginning writers who have acted upon a good idea for a story that had them panting to get to the computer and write the whole thing. Gotta do it while it's fresh in our minds. Right? They get excited and write the story and send it to an editor the same day. Big mistake.

It's a rare writer who can call a first draft a publishable piece. It's you taking that idea that's been swirling in your head and putting it in black and white. It's your template--the pattern from which you'll continue to create a finished piece.

Have you ever had a story idea that keeps coming back to your mind over and over? If you have, you know you absolutely must start writing or the idea is going to consume your every waking moment. OK, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but close enough. You have to tell yourself the story before you can tell it to readers. 

It's a good idea to write the story from beginning to end without stopping. Don't consider any revisions at this point. Once the final paragraph is done, put it in a file. Don't even read it through, even though you'll be tempted. Go empty the dishwasher or out for a walk or make a phone call. Get away from what you've written. Go back the next day or even two or three days later and read it. 

You may have one of two reactions. You'll either be pleased as a cat lapping up a bowl of milk or as depressed as a man just turned down after a proposal. Either way, your next step is to start revising. Look at the piece as objectively as you can--and that's not always an easy task--and get to work. Check your overall impression and decide what major changes are needed. Then do a line by line edit and revision, cutting where needed and expanding on areas that might benefit. 

Few good writers do one rewrite and call it quits. One of the authors at the convention I attended earlier this month has a trilogy of historical novels that are quite good. In his workshop, he mentioned that he rewrote the first book in the series twelve times. Twelve times! That's an even dozen. Is the man a perfectionist? Possibly. Or he may have wanted to have the best novel he could write. 

The first draft is step one in writing a publishable piece. We all know that step one is the very best place to begin. 


  1. This is my favorite piece of yours so far. I've started a number of first drafts and written my way through four novels to the end and can relate to the quote and your accompanying words. That aside, I couldn't continue without saying that this resonated with me. It's been particularly inspiring since I've recently started a new project. I'm so glad I found this blog. Thank you!

    1. And I'm quite glad that you found this blog, too. :) Good Luck on your new project.