The First Draft

Let it Go, Let it Flow

Everyone has their own methods of writing a first draft and the great news is there is no wrong way! You can map out your chapters if you have a particular plot in mind or perhaps you are writing a non-fiction and have a list of topics that you want to explore. Even with non-fiction you still need to let it flow.  Perhaps a particular topic or character just won’t stop talking, that’s ok, let it all out!

When I started to write I came up with four main characters that were telling their story. One of my characters changed her name three times! But Harry always stayed the same. Sometimes Stacey would talk away for days and Milla would stay quiet. There was no point mapping them out, I just let it flow.  That could easily translate to different topics, obviously you will have more to say on one topic than another, just get it out and edit later.

Which Way Is Right to Write?

I didn’t start writing in chapters until I got to twenty thousand words. I hadn’t realised I was writing a book! I had four files; one for each character. I went through deciding where the story took a natural break.  I have to say that this was a pretty painful process.  Luckily the story had carried all the characters in the same direction and they had been talking away even when I didn’t know who they were talking to!  For book two I was a bit more sensible, I knew how many words I wanted in each chapter, obviously you do have to be a little bit flexible but this was so much easier.

Perhaps you have started with an idea or a sentence and it all flows from there. Maybe you start at the end and work your way backwards. Have you started in the middle? It really doesn’t matter, that’s what the edit is all about, just concentrate on getting it down first.

Feedback on Your First Draft

When I got to 30,000 words I decided to ask someone for some feedback. This is something I have now realised writers everywhere debate! Do you show other people your work and risk being shot down? Well, I felt I needed to know if it was any good.  Luckily I was given straight no-nonsense remarks that were very useful. I adjusted a few things and felt encouraged to carry on. I have to say I didn’t let anyone else see it from that point on, I had been encouraged and told where to tighten up, that’s all I wanted to know.  If you are going to get someone to look at your first draft I would choose wisely.

When I had finished the manuscript I had around 80,000 words I edited this down to 67,000.  There could well be part of another book in that 13,000 words.

Joining a writers group was invaluable and I read a chapter a week.  It soon became obvious that I needed to get it copy edited if I was going to submit this to publishers and so that’s exactly what I did.  The good news was that I received encouragement; I was told it flowed well, they were drawn into the story and wanted to know more.  Bingo!

Good Luck & Get Writing and Remember No-one is Happy with their First Draft!

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