Tips for First Drafts
Hello friends! For today’s post, I would love to talk about first drafts. For many young authors, this can be a bit of a scary concept. Taking an idea, whether you just came up with it or have been toying with it for years, and turning it into a full fledged novel is a daunting task. When you look at the blinking cursor on the blank page, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But that’s what I’m here for!
I want to give you some helpful tips on writing first drafts based on what I have learned in my NaNoWriMo experience to get you from page 1 all the way to the end.
#1: Get prepared.
Now, depending on whether you’re an outliner or a pantser (see this article to figure out which one you are), this step may or may not apply to you. But in my personal experience, I think it is always a good idea to start out with at least some idea of where you’re going. At the very least, a basic idea of beginning, middle, and end is a good idea as well as knowledge about your main character(s). For fantasy novels, I would also highly, highly recommend having more than a basic knowledge of your universe. It will save you so much time in the long run than creating details out of thin air where you may forget to keep them consistent. If you prefer more detailed preparation, I like to use a plot outline that I have the option of sticking to or deviating from as new ideas come to light. These tactics will serve you well as you begin drafting.
#2: Just start.
The hardest part of drafting is starting.
No, really, it is.
Your head is often filled with doubts. Is this the right idea? Do I know enough about what I want to write to start writing? Am I a good enough writer to start a novel on a whim? What am I doing? It can be difficult to shut off those thoughts, especially if this is your first novel attempt.
But I promise you, you are good enough.
All you have to do is start. You don’t even have to start at the beginning if you don’t want to; you can start from any point in your story where you have inspiration. Just get words down on the page. Which brings me to my next point:
#3: Keep going.
Drafts often end up partially finished, whether due to lack of inspiration or lack of motivation. I have found that a good way to combat this is to just keep writing. Even if you know it’s terrible. These moments can be fixed in the second draft when revisions begin. I read a fantastic tip in an article by Marissa Meyer, the author of Cinder, right before I began Chasing Fae that really stuck with me as I started NaNoWriMo.
That’s all. Write fast. When taken at face value, it may seem a little confusing. But when explained, it becomes a fantastic concept. Essentially, Meyer sets herself a relatively short time frame to complete her first draft. A month is usually a good place to start. Then you stick to that time frame, whatever you have to do. You skip over sections that you can’t seem to connect to another at the moment to places where you have more inspiration. I wrote Chasing Fae from both ends before meeting up in the middle. It’s a lot easier than you would think, and the end result is very satisfying.
And there you have it! My best advice on first drafts. Feel free to comment with any other pieces of advice or stories about your own experience with first drafts!