Wow, I really dropped off of planet Blogosphere for the month, didn’t I? Heh. Sorry about that. I told myself I’d try to do better with social media this year, but turned out only one post for February. Well, my excuse is I’ve been busy writing.
I’ve been pushing myself long hours to progress on the latter half of the first draft for book five in the Elf Gate Series. And now I am officially done! … With the first draft. -_-*
Okay, it’s not really the first draft. This story was originally written several decades ago and has evolved over a long period of time, so it’s more like a “do-over”. The story of the original script is nowhere near recognizable now compared to what I’ve published in the first four books of the series. But the original script for “Book 5” was so incredibly butchered by the time I finished re-reading it, that writing this version was like starting from scratch with a first draft. And because of trying to wrap up as many threads as possible for the series in the next two books, this has been my most difficult book to write yet. It’s a beast — not in terms of word count, but in terms of author tasking.
That being said, here are some tips on how to make first drafts less painful and flow a lot quicker.
Tips on Writing First Drafts
- Kill your inner editor. Writing is a process, so you will have to go back and make changes later anyway. Push forward until you reach the end, then you can begin revisions and edits.
- Don’t feel like you have to write in a linear order. Whether you’re an outliner or a pantser, it is not necessary to craft your story from point A to point Z. I tend to backtrack here and there as I push forward, but not to the extent that I do when I’m revising or editing. It’s more or less to add notes about thoughts while they’re floating in my head, or anchor myself in what I wrote yesterday before pushing ahead. I write the parts that inspire me at the moment I am writing. I don’t worry much about transitions as long as I have the parts of the scene that are important. I can always fit the scenes together better later, as necessary.
- Leave details blank for filling in later. Use things like brackets with notes or multiple, repetitive marks that would be easy to find in a search, like “????” as places for names of minor characters or towns that can be named later so that time is not wasted trying to find just the right insert before further progress is made. Make these notes obnoxious enough that they won’t be overlooked in the revision process. Use red font, highlights … whatever works for you.
- Skip scenes, if necessary. This reinforces points 2 and 3, but I have places where, for example, I have a fight scene, but I don’t feel like writing a fight scene at that moment; so I make a note in red font saying: “(Fight scene.)” I can come back to it when I feel like writing detailed, martial choreography. But that way I can jump to the outcome and keep going.
If you’re a writer who has trouble finishing what you start, I recommend using some of these methods to jump hurdles and keep running. The longer you can keep pushing the story forward, the less likely you are to hit a writer’s block, waste time despairing over your script, and give up … tucking away yet another unfinished project.
Just remind yourself you will have to revise and edit anyway before the story is good enough to share with anyone, so you can always add or change things then. Writing is a process. And the first draft is nothing more than the bare bones skeleton placement. Go the distance and stick with it. Over time, with several revisions, it will eventually not be crap. 🙂