You have your characters, you have some plot events, either written down or loosely in your mind. It’s time to start writing your novel.
But I can hear you asking, what about dialogue and pacing, theme, point of view? Those are important, yes, but not right now.
I use my first draft as an opportunity to explore my story world and characters. To understand them, to see if any new ideas for conflict or story events arise. I don’t worry about matters of craft, like dialogue, pacing, theme, point of view, etc. If I tried to keep all of those in mind while writing the first draft, I’d be paralyzed and no words would come out.
No, if you’re a beginning writer, use your first draft to get the story down on paper, nothing more. You can work on the craft stuff while you’re editing your novel. Eventually, when you’ve written enough words in your writing career, you’ll naturally include good dialogue, proper pacing, and most effective point of view in your first drafts.
First Draft Tips
- Write every day. You want to develop a consistent habit.
- Write in small chunks of time, like 10-20 minutes. If you’re pressed for time, keep your story materials handy and write in five minute bursts. The key to making short bursts work is to write as fast as you can in your session.
- No editing! Don’t go back to change anything. If you have a new idea that changes something you’ve already written, make a note somewhere (like your novel journal) and fix it later. You don’t want to lose your forward momentum.
- Don’t worry about clunky writing or dull words. You aren’t trying to write the perfect story, this first time around. You’re exploring the story world and characters and getting the basic story down on paper.
Looking for a program that will provide some encouragement for regular, fast writing? Try the Need for Speed mini course.
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