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‘Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.’ – Groucho Marx

Archive Dive: the first draft

Let’s dive in and see what wisdom we can drag out of our archives for drafting, editing and rewriting.

If we start with the start, beginnings, Lucy Christopher says:

I spend ages getting the first third of anything right. It seems that once I have the first third, then I’m happy to race ahead and finish the rest of it. But until then I feel nauseas and unsettled, and I have the hugest compulsions to just keep going over what I’ve done.

How does Scott Westerfeld get through the first draft?

I write about a thousand new words a day. But I start each day by reviewing the previous three days’ work.

This has two effects. One, it means that I ease into my writing day, editing and rewriting those 3,000 old words before facing the deadly blank page. By the time I finish that I’ve got a head of steam up, I remember what’s going on in the story, and writing new words doesn’t seem impossible, like it did right after coffee.

And how do you get the structure right? Nova Wheetman has this insight:

My sense of structure comes mostly from reading other people’s books. I love reading books that are so flawlessly structured, you don’t even know it’s there until someone points it out. But if you read a book that satisfies on every other level and lets you down on structure, it’s really annoying.

Finally, what do you do when you’ve finished your first draft? David Burton says:

I’m not going to look at the thing for another six weeks. Seriously, it’s going in a drawer. I’m not going to open it for at LEAST a month and a half. It’s taken up a huge amount of my brain for well over six months now, and my poor brain needs a break. I’m not going to show it to anyone. It’s just going into hibernation for a bit.

Time to get cracking on your first draft!

2 comments

bookwithbane

Between NanNoWriMo and all the writer interviews, I am so pumped to write!

3w ago
writeradele

Yeah, I find that I keep looking over my work and unnecessarily critiquing every single sentence. I find it helpful to not worry about how your writing sounds for the first draft, just write out the storyline then worry about descriptive language, structure and fluency :)

1w ago