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How to write a first draft

How to write a first draft is not really something that can be taught as each writer is unique and what works for one writer will not work for another. So to help you I have put together 15 simple rules for completing your first draft in record time:

1) Commit to a particular time of day

The choice is yours but early in the morning is best, and stick to that every day, no matter what happens
If you have a full time job you might have to get up at the crack of dawn or, even better, take some leave and just get the job done.

2) Skip over problem areas

You can skip over any parts that really don’t make sense right now, but try to get the main points of the plot on the page or you could end up with nothing. You need to see if your story is going to work.

3) Don’t worry about quality

Concentrate on the story and don’t worry about editing your work. Punctuation and spelling can be sorted out later on.

4) Don’t think too much

If you take your time and think about every word you will not be able to get your ideas down

5) Know what problem, or problems your protagonist will face.

All stories are about how someone solves a problem. Often there is more than one problem that can’t be avoided and you need to decide on the internal and external battles your main character will face.

6) Know how your protagonist looks at life

Decide on how your protagonist reacts to what life throws at him. In other words how does he relate to the world and the people in it?

7) Come up with ideas for minor characters

Have a basic feel for the minor characters and decide which one is to be the antagonist

8) Flesh out minor characters later

Names, ages and all the other nitty-gritty can come later on, for the time being just let it flow.

9) Extra research and characterization

Characterization and motivation can be fixed in later edits, once you have got the basic story down, and you have more time to do research

10) Decide on what the moral (lesson) of the story is

Every story has a lesson. The protagonist needs to be changed somehow at the end of the story. Don’t leave this decision right until the end.

11) Know where your story is going

If you know how your story is going to end you will be able to work out how to get there. If you don’t follow this important piece of advice you may end up with a convoluted story that is difficult to edit.

12) Ask “why” and not “what”

Stories are not about “what” happens, they are about “why” it happens.

13) Use the five senses

What your characters see, smell, hear, touch, and taste will draw the reader into the story and make it more real. Although the first draft is not about going into too much detail, focussing on the senses will help create the imaginary world that your characters live in.

14) Decide on your theme or genre

The theme will decide the underlying feel of the story and will influence the way that you write so this is extremely important. Another way to look at this is that books fall into different genres such as love story, adventure, thriller and so on.

15) Shut your inner critic up

I have written about how to wake up the writer in you and to do this you need to stop that nagging voice that criticises you as you write. Just tell yourself that this is the first draft and it really doesn’t matter if it isn’t a master piece and this will help you to shut your inner critic up.

Now that you know how to write a first draft of your book you can put some time aside and do it. Oh and my one last piece of advice is to put the first draft away for a week or two and let it percolate. When you come back to it you should know exactly how to correct any problem areas.


Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.



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