On Writing Perfect First Drafts

     As I draw near the end of first drafting my WIP, Golden Revenge, I've had a lot of time to realize how much the story has developed from the first page. I've discovered who my characters truly are, revealed the villain's motives, and dug deeper into the plot.

     But it's far from perfect. 


     There are characters who I ditched after eight chapters, and point-of-views that jumped into the book halfway through. There are major plot twists I need to go back and foreshadow.

     Let's not even discuss how the beginning doesn't fit the current story anymore.

     When I was at the beginning of my writing journey, I thought all you had to do was write a first draft, fix the typos, and then bam you'll get published. I didn't even realize there could be second or third or even eleventh drafts. I thought the first time I wrote the story it would be perfect.

    Hahaha.

    No.

    As Shannon Hale says: 


    Now I don't go into my first drafts thinking or even trying for them to be perfect. First drafts aren't meant to be perfect.

   So don't expect them to be.

   Laugh at how your characters changed hair colour halfway through; sigh at the people who end up on the wrong continent to fight a different villain. Muddle through the middle as you try and connect the dots.

   Don't be discouraged if there are plot holes the size of the Mariana Trench. Don't toss away words because they're not perfect.

   First drafts should be you trying to discover the story buried beneath a collection of plot bunnies. Find its true heart. Let your first draft be imperfect, because if it is, not only will you have an excuse to stay with your characters longer, but you'll grow as a writer.

What draft of your WIP are you on right now? (If you can even count how many) How would you describe your first drafting process? What's your favourite writing quote?

Comments

  1. *applauds* ABSOLUTELY IN AGREEMENT HERE!! I used to think that you could only write ONE draft too. XD So every time I felt things going wrong...I'd re-start from the beginning. I know. Crazy stuff. XD Least to say writing was basically doing my head in and I nearly quit. Learning to write terribly messy drafts was SO FREEING. <3
    How many drafts I do per book depends though. My last contemporary only had two drafts (!!) which was like a miracle...but I've had books that have been 100% overhauled 7+ times. XD

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    1. *bows shyly* Thanks Cait! Re-starting is better than what I used to do--I ditched the entire idea completely, sure the problem could never be fixed. I now love first drafting simply because I don't have to worry about cleaning everything up yet. You're right; it's totally freeing. :D
      Two drafts?? That's amazing. I'm jealous; most of mine take at least three. XD But every story needs a different number of drafts, so in the end, we just need to do whatever to make it the best it can be. <3
      Thanks so much for commenting! :D

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  2. Thank you for sharing :) it is great reminder :)

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    1. Thank /you/ for reading and commenting, Hana! It's always important to realize we don't have to always put obscene amounts of pressure on ourselves to make our art perfect.

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  3. This post is so encouraging; thank you for writing it!
    See, I'm the sort of person who gets excited about shiny new ideas and abandons current projects to chase them, so right now I'm in draft one of just about everything. XD
    I usually end up with only a few drafts, because one of my bad habits is editing as I go. Every time I write ten pages, I go back to the beginning and edit it up to where I am. So by the time I finish a single draft, the beginning is pretty well dialed in, but the middle is eh and the end is a disaster. XD

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. You're very welcome Ellie! <3
      I've abandoned plenty of my projects too. XD I don't tend to edit very much as I go along, but I know a few writers who also do that. I think it's very much a type of writing/editing style, which is totally ok, but just keep in mind that first drafts aren't meant to be perfect. :)
      I wish you best of luck with your writing, and thank you for commenting! :D

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  4. I love first drafts sooooo so much. I love the freedom you have in them, and the exploration. The fresh hope in your story, and the solid belief in its potential. NAY FOR PERFECT DRAFTS! AMEN! If you don't mess up at all (which is impossible) then I'd say that's a failure in and of itself. Trying new things leads to mistakes, and if you never try anything new then where is the fun in that?

    Great post! <3

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    1. First drafting has to be my favourite part of the writing process, for all the reasons you listed! XD I love how I can mess up but still know there is a jewel buried beneath pages of mistakes. Yes, we should always try new things! Thank you so much for commenting, Hannah! <3

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  5. I adore drafting. It can be so freeing to just sit down and write, but then I have to deal with all the awfulness later when I'm editing. LIKE WHAT WAS I EVEN THINKING? Basically editing is hard for me.

    I usually take like 4-5 drafts to make my book readable (my current WIP will be like 5), but the first book I wrote (which I still love) is at draft 9 and I have to completely overhaul it... AGAIN... at some point. Which is going to be fun. *hyperventilates*

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    1. Editing is also really hard for me, because that's where I clean up the beautiful mess I made first drafting. I've found that my earlier stories require more drafts, but don't worry, I'm sure you can do it! Thanks for commenting, Victoria! <3

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  6. Awesome post! I really needed to hear this right now, because it feels like the first draft of my WIP is just going disastrously! I don't seem to be making much progress, but I think I'm trying to perfect it too much as I'm going along when the important thing it just getting it down.
    Congrats on nearly completing your first draft, and best of luck with your second! :)

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    1. Thanks Laura! My best advice would be to set yourself a challenge to not go back and edit anything, and to just plow ahead. Revisions and editing are for the second drafts and so on. Feel free to make the first draft absolutely horrible! Thank you so much for dropping by! XD

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  7. Yes to this post! It's so important to have this in mind. I get discouraged easily when I'm drafting and so I have to remind myself that it's no big deal. It's just my first attempt. I used to re-write stories too when I had this feeling that it's not going in the right direction or if I noticed a plot hole, but now I just put a note at the end of my chapter and continue. Good luck with your writing! :)

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    1. When I get panicky about how the first draft isn't turning out the way I want it to or thought it would, I also remind myself that it doesn't matter: first drafts will never be perfect, nor should they be. XD That's a good tip about the note; I'll have to try it out. Good luck with your writing also! Thank you for commenting, Simona! :D

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  8. I thought the exact same thing about first drafts when I was younger. XD That's so funny. It's definitely a relief to not worry about writing perfect drafts, eh?

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. It's a huge relief! It really takes the pressure off and lets us focus on discovering the story rather than having perfect line structure. Thanks so much for commenting, Victoria! XD

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