Friday, March 25, 2011

Roll up your sleeves, it's time for the first draft

I'm so thankful for everyone who chimed in with questions yesterday when I posted about an upcoming school visit of mine. Career Day is in two weeks, so if you think of new questions between now and then, please shoot me an email or leave a comment or something.

So. Where are we in our writing process? (I had to click the "Write Now" tab to remember.)

We've been in the pausing place. We wrote our first three chapters, then paused to create character charts, write a synopsis, create a scene breakdown spreadsheet, and do some research. (We also added to our scene breakdown spreadsheet and our character chart, but those don't count as steps. Just as an example that there's always learning to do!)

And now, there's no more avoiding it - the first draft must be written.

Maybe you are the fortunate writer who loves writing the first draft. Who loves creating something from nothing. Good for you. While you happily scribble your way to "The End," I'll be sitting over here grumbling and muttering and finding all kinds of excuses to leave my office. Did anyone feed the dog yet? I could really use a snack. I wonder if the mail is here yet...

Of the whole process, the first draft gives me the most trouble. Sometimes, when the words are flowing, when scenes are coming together the way I hoped, I enjoy it. Other times I just wish the words were already on the page, and I could move on to editing.

I'm not sure how many posts I'll write about the first draft process because ... well, there's only so much advice one can give. And for me and other writers like me, getting the first draft down mostly takes grit. It takes putting aside how I feel, and just ... writing.

After I've been "on pause," I re-read my first three chapters. I allow myself some light editing. I'm not yet being fussy about word choices and flow of dialogue, but I often add a character or weave in a plot line. Doing this helps me get back into my character's world, my character's voice.

I'm in the first draft stage at the moment with my manuscript. I started chapter four about a week and a half ago. I do think having the scene breakdown spreadsheet has helped me thus far. I'm not following it exactly, but it's definitely helped with the, "Uh ... so, now what?" feeling I used to get.

Next week, we'll talk more about writing your first draft - to edit or not to edit as you write? There'll also be a new writing prompt on Monday, I'll be posting contest results hopefully on Tuesday, and I'm hoping to work in an interview with J.L. Orchard, an editor for Cinch Magazine.

Have a great weekend, guys!


  1. Sometimes I wonder why we're friends. ;-) Give me a first draft any day, and please, PLEASE save the revising/rewriting phase for someone else!

  2. That's why we're friends! We complement each other :) You complete me. Sniff, sniff...

  3. LOL (literally). Watch it, or I'm going to break out in song like you say people don't do after they grow up. ;-)

  4. I have a problem, and I think it's why I often give up on writing.

    I can't fill in the days. I don't want to fill them in with things of no importance -- but I feel silly jumping around all the time,from morning and suddenly it's nighttime. I'm missing something... what is it?

  5. It's amazing how when you first start writing you think you are going to be one way but when you really get into writing. I.e. The first draft you find things are different than you thought. At least that's what happened to me. I thought I was a SOTP whod love the first draft & hate editing...amazing how a few chapters in I want it planned & maybe will like editing better.

    Emil, I have a problem to that makes me want to give up. I'm stuck on my first draft so much I want to write something BUT I don't have another idea I love. So I keep trying to figure out what to do. I want to write but don't know what to write about :/

  6. Emii, that's a wonderful question! I'm going to write a post on it next week, okay?

    Tonya, I think the more you write, the easier it gets to come up with the "right" ideas. Something about working your creative muscles spurs on extra creativity.