Ready, Set, Get Going!
The first piece of advice I have is to just start writing! Your plans, your outlines, your visions for your future novel, will never be perfect. An author will rarely be fully ready to begin writing the first draft, and there isn’t ever a perfect time or place to do it. So, if you’re waiting until you have that big unique world bending idea figured out, you’re making a mistake.
Books Change and Evolve
One of the primary reasons why you should just start writing, regardless of whether you feel like the plot is ready to go, is because it will change as the story flows. There are some writers who will plan everything with VERY detailed outlines. For them, the story won’t change an awful lot as they write it. However, most writers view their entire first draft as an outline of sorts, a very detailed outline.
That first draft will be revised in major ways, probably three or four times. That means that many of the great ideas you thought you had before you started may no longer have any place in the book. Your writing will ignite new ideas, and those will leave your overthought, mechanical plans in the dust.
Your First Draft Will Not Be Good
If you’re worrying about the first draft being good or great, stop. It won’t be either. In fact, most writers can barely even look at their first drafts without dry heaving. Most of the first drafts that I have written, or read from other authors, are almost unreadable. There are far too many mistakes for the work to be considered anything but an idea.
The most fun part of writing for me is the first and second drafts. The first draft is where all the new ideas and characters get to make their way through a story that nobody has ever seen before. What a blast! The second draft is where much of that story is rearranged and rewritten so that it actually resembles a coherent piece of writing!
After those two drafts, the act of book writing seems to shift from exhilarant to quite job like. So, have fun with your first draft! Watching where your awesome characters will take your story is the most fun a writer will have.
Two Ways to Edit
There are two ways to edit your first draft to make it readable. Remember you are FAR from this book being finished after you have written the last word of your first pass. However, this first round of editing is important, because the entire draft needs to flow enough to be read without major distraction. You want yourself, and anyone else that may read it (beta readers if you’re using them this early), to be able to really dig into the story and the characters. That’s not possible when every paragraph has a bunch of misspellings and punctuation mistakes.
You can wait until the entire draft is done to go back and edit, or you can do a pass as you’re writing. We will write another article on this and the pros and cons of each. For now, just know that either is fine. If you’re in a great flow and don’t want to stop writing until you’re done, keep going! There will be plenty of time to go back and edit the writing.
Okay, thanks for reading! The first draft is incredibly fun to write and just as challenging to read. Don’t expect it to be good, just have fun with it and work on making it great later!