First Draft

7 articles tagged as First Draft

For the past several months I’ve been trying to force myself to write in first person. It fits the genre and I love my opening paragraph, which only works in first person. The trouble is that I find it difficult to tell a story in first person narration. And this is causing a lot of struggles.

Yes, I succeeded in completing a first draft in first person narration, but when I went back to read my writing, it felt stale. It was lacking the excitement and energy of things I’ve written in third person. Yet for some reason, I keep clinging to this idea that the story must be in first person. But why?

So what if a lot of books in the genre rely on first person narration? So what if I have to rewrite my first paragraph? If I’m not comfortable writing in that style, if I lack the talent to write in that style, none of the reasons to retain it will matter because no one will ever want to read my book, and that, after all, is what makes you a novelist – you need readers. And this leads me to my current dilemma – should I rewrite the entire first draft to fit within a form I’m comfortable writing in, or should I try to stretch myself and step outside of my comfort zone?

What would you do in my shoes? Do you prefer first person to third person? Or do you let the story dictate your plan of attack?

I am well into the editing stage and part of me hates everything, but a small part of me sees potential. There just might be something worthwhile in this manuscript.

In conjunction with my read-through, I am continuing to write every night. If there are scenes I think I missed, or areas that need to be elaborated on, I write them out in 500-1300 word chunks. They may not go into the final story, but by writing these, I am continuing to process the information, to see where I can go with my story. Plus it keeps me writing.

I owe the writing while editing in part to I wanted to complete their 1-month challenge, which I did. But it is also really nice to try things out on a clean piece of paper, to test scenes and ideas without having to commit to them. And, when I am ready to start doing my real edits, I will have some potential content to add into the story.

It is actually pretty refreshing, the amount of new material I am coming up with by writing while reading. I have discovered scenes I didn’t know existed. I am flushing out relationships I didn’t imagine. I am making the world all the more dynamic. And I love it.

I don’t know why I never thought of editing this way before, but so far, it is really working for me. I know that I don’t want to add too much more content to the manuscript. I am already right around my word limit, but by creating the new content within a second document, I have the freedom to keep or discard anything I want. Regardless of what I keep or toss, the insights I glean from the new scenes are something I will always have. The depth I am adding to the story will only improve it.

What do you think? Will writing new scenes while trying to read through my first draft distract me from my initial evaluation, or will it help me to produce a stronger story? Have you ever used this method?


As you may have read in last Tuesday’s post, The Light at the End of the Never Ending Tunnel, I was nearing completion of my first draft. Well guess what? I finished it. Yup, that’s right. I found the ending and stopped upon arrival. Of course, now comes the hard part – the Editing stage.

Editing – a Love/Hate Relationship

I’ve read a lot about the editing process in the blogs I follow. So I can guarantee you, I have not been looking forward to this stage. While I’ve been dying to finish draft one, I’ve been dreading the reward – editing. But in reading through blogs, I got a really good suggestion from several sources – read through your first draft as though you are reading a book. Do not start editing or adding content. Just read through it to see how it works as a real book.

Easier said than done, I know. And this is where my Kindle comes in.

After completing my draft, I set out to put my WIP onto my Kindle. This turned out to be extremely easy (click here for instructions). Basically, you get an email account for your kindle then you email the file to the account. For a very small fee (I paid $0.15), Amazon will convert your ‘book’ into an ebook. It then magically shows up on your Kindle when you connect to the internet.

The formatting is not ideal – my paragraphs are not indented, my headings are all wrong – but I can pick up my Kindle and read my words the same way I would read any other book. Plus, I cannot edit while on the kindle.

I am getting a little frustrated with the no editing thing. I read some sentences and cringe, or I see a typo or a place where I inserted the wrong character’s name. And the writing, oh the writing is so loose and I am just dying to tighten it up. But I also see the sense in this plan.

Why don’t I just get out the red pen and go to town?

Before waisting my time editing, I need to make sure the story actually works. I need to know how it is flowing, what things I abandoned halfway down the road without meaning to, or where I can add things that I decided halfway through to run with. By reading it all the way through, I am experiencing it the way a reader would experience it. And if you recall from my post last Tuesday, the reader is who you ultimately want to please.

So far, not so good

I know it is a rough draft, a point I keep reminding myself of, but so far, I’m not impressed. In fact, I’m a bit bored with my writing. Part of this could be that I already know how it will end, but part of it too is that I got lazy with word choice and my sentences are too wordy. But you know what, that’s alright. Because what I got down in the first draft was my story. The details are all there, waiting for me once I can get past the poorly constructed sentences. And once I see how the content works, I can go back and spend hours searching for the best word or the most clever sentence structure. But until then, I’m just not going to worry about it. I’m reading for content, and content only. The rest can all come into play in the next drafts. This read-through is all about making sure it works.


Without the bones of a good story, no amount of fancy writing will save your book. This is the reality of being a writer. And so I’m willing to suck it up, cringe at the writing I would never pay money to read, and focus on the content.

How do you edit? Do you pull the red pen out and start marking everything up, or do you take your time, immerse yourself in the story first, focusing on that main element, before going crazy with the edits?

Ok, I know you’ve heard this from me before, but I am so, so close to finishing my rough draft (and by rough, I mean ROUGH). And I really mean it this time. I’m coming in just at 80,000, I’ve gone through a story arc and I’ve set up the action for the next books in the series. The only problem is, where do I stop?

You’d think since I’m writing a series that this would be the easy part. Can’t I just stop anywhere? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. In fact, finding an ending for a series might be harder than finding an ending for a single book.

When reading a series, you want to feel satisfied by the ending of the book, but still eager to read the next book in the series. You need to feel like some things were resolved but that there is still a bigger picture in need of a resolution. In trilogies, the second book doesn’t always follow this pattern, but the first book almost always does. If you end too abruptly and leave too many ends untied, your readers may get frustrated. Frustrated readers often times equal lost readers. Losing readers is never a good thing.

So how do you find the perfect ending?

If I had the answer to this question, I’m sure I would have written a million books by now, or at least more than I’ve written to date. So what am I banking on then? That I’ll just know.

My plan is to stop when I think it’s done, then read through it and see how the ending leaves me – do I feel satisfied, disappointed, eager to read the next installment? Based off of my reaction, and eventually my beta readers, I should (hopefully) be able to gauge where it should end. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. And fingers crossed that I finally finish a first draft.

A few weeks ago I read in a woman’s magazine (not sure which one) that it takes 66 days to make something a habit. The article was talking more about dieting, or exercising, or flossing your teeth. But in reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if writing couldn’t also be applied to this.

I know I’ve talked about before. Since my last post on the subject, I’ve been using it a lot – I’ve entered almost 20,000 words into the site. And I’ve got to say, it’s growing on me.

Making Writing a Daily Habit

Since February is the shortest month of the year, I decided to join the 1-month challenge, where I will write 750 words a day for the entire month. I figure if I succeed, I will have reached day 28 in the 66 days needed to form a habit. And once I’ve hit my 28th day, what’s to stop me from writing for 38 more days? And if I manage to do this, will I have succeeded in making writing a daily habit? I hope so.

So far I am on day 7. Not long, I know. But I already feel the need to sit down and get my writing done. And it really is surprising how fast it is to write 750 words. My best time, earning me the Speedy Typist badge, is 12 minutes, but I average closer to 15. In 15 minutes a day, I can write 750+ words. Not too shabby.

My 750 words are not stellar, I know this. But I’m still on the rough draft stage of my book (and I’m almost done). My only concern with the 1-month challenge is that I will finish my first draft before the month is over. But then, is this really a bad thing?

Do you think I can finish the challenge? Do you think I can turn daily writing into a habit? Have you turned daily writing into a habit? How do you fit your writing time in? Is 15 minutes a day enough time? Or do you need more time to write a first draft?

I’m nearing the end of my first draft, and it’s everything I can do to just keep pushing through. I want to go back and read it. I want to start editing. I want to fix the plot holes I know are there. I want to make it polished and shiny and perfect. But I know I can’t do these things yet. I know I need to finish before anything else.

A change in perspective

My philosophy on this matter has changed dramatically in the past year. I used to think there was no point continuing on if you knew things needed to be fixed. But then I would get so caught up fixing that I never quite reached the end. I need to show myself that I can complete a first draft first and foremost. Once I know how it is supposed to end (I do have an idea, but everything plays out differently when you put it down on paper), I will know how to go back and spruce it up.

I’m right around 60,000 words right now. Not bad considering I started this one November 1. Ideally my WIP will come in around 90k. But I’m not stressing out. I know there are scenes I need to elaborate on, characters that need to be expanded upon. These things will give me some extra words. So instead of worrying about reaching my word count goal, I’m just worrying about getting to the end, about creating a story with the three essential parts: beginning, middle, and end.

How do you write your first drafts? Do you edit as you go? Do you try to write more words than you need or do you prefer to add instead of subtract in the editing process?

We have reached the second half of November. And you know what that means besides turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and my mom’s birthday? It means that NaNoWriMo is half over!

The good news for me is that I am actually on schedule this year. Scratch that. I’m ahead of schedule. When I went to bed last night, I was at 34,365 words, well over halfway to 50,000. Of course, the bad news is that NaNo has made blogging a little more difficult. But that’s actually a good thing because there’s no point in building a platform if you’ve got nothing to show for it (i.e. a book).

I know that some of my 34,365 words are duds, destined to be erased, but isn’t that the nature of a first draft? To spew everything out of your head onto paper? At least that’s what NaNoWriMo is about. And so far, it’s working. By getting everything down, I am able to clear my head. I already know some of the bits that will get cut in my next draft, but in the spirit of NaNo, I’m not cutting yet. I’m going to finish my first draft and then we can talk about the second draft.

So why is it that I can suddenly get my story down?

Part of it is discipline. The discipline of NaNo is something I’m benefiting from and something I’m hoping to be able to take with me into the coming months. I think the other part of it is keeping my focusing, working hard to get my story down in full before it starts slipping away, before I start losing momentum. With my other work-in-progress, I dragged it out, allowing doubt to seep in.

The other part of it was my planning. While I’ve deviated from the outline in some aspects, the general outline has not changed. I know where my story is going and how to get there. I think this is key.

How are you doing with the NaNoWriMo challenge? Are you on track? What’s working for you and what isn’t? And, if you haven’t donated to NaNo this year, what are you waiting for?