Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Important Is The First Draft?

Not very. Why? When you think about what a first draft is for, the relative unimportance of it becomes apparent.

The first draft is about getting your story down in an organised format, allowing the characters to breathe the air of the storyline and to give you something solid to work with.

It is NOT the final version you send to an agent/publisher or even to your beta readers, nor is it something you will ever look back on and say 'WOW' about. It is nothing more or less than the first step, if you're a pantser like me, or the second step if you plan and organise your story.

In the first draft we can make spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, leave small plot holes, unfinished dialogue, note places where more research is needed etc. We don't have to worry about fleshing out the characters too much but can learn a lot about the story, the people and world we've created.

The first draft is for us. It shows us things what no amount of research or planning can bring out and helps define whether the story is workable or not. It is not something to fret over, worry over or obsess over.

Our fist attempt to write is not our last and does not need to be perfect or even very good, it just needs to set out the signposts and the general direction.

How important is the first draft? In the grand scheme of writing a novel, not very. It is a stage along the way, not the final destination.


Chloe said...

What I love about first drafts is being able to completely change a plot line halfway through and not have to bother going back and re-writing the early bits to fit in with the changes. Sometimes the second half of my first draft makes little sense in relation to the second half, but it just doesn't matter. Also it gives you something to read back a few months later and laugh.

Milo James Fowler said...

That's the stuff, Martin. And with this kind of freedom, we'll avoid writer's block (almost) every time!

Martin Willoughby said...

Chloe: First drafts are certainly free and easy in that sense.

Milo: Writer's block! Pah!

Jeff Chapman said...

Well said and it can never be said enough. I just wish the first draft wasn't so hard for me to write. Sometimes it feels like mining rocks with a spoon. Maybe that's why I find revising so much fun.

Martin Willoughby said...

Jeff: I like revising too, probably too much which is why it takes me so long.