THE PLACE TO BE FOR ALL YOUR STORY WRITING NEEDS

FIRST DRAFTS

So, here we are. We want to write our story. Perhaps there's a character tugging on your heart and pleading to be made whole. Maybe there's a setting you want to do justice to, or an event you want to show everyone. Where do we start?

 

First, a caveat *cue groaning*.

 

There is no right way to write.

 

You may hear a lot of definites bandied about, like "you must write at least 50, 500, 5000, 5 books every single day" or "NEVER go back and tinker or edit until you've finished the first draft".

 

Well, we like to think of ourselves as more writer pirates, so they be more like guidelines.

The more often you write, the quicker you will find a routine and a method that works for you. That is your writing groove. It is yours, and nobody is allowed to take that away from you. Of course, if you feel like you want to improve, try different methods or learn from other writers, that's brilliant. Just don't get into the trap of thinking you're always doing it wrong because of X, Y or Z. The only true 'wrong' of writing is never writing again. And nobody wants that.

So, the most common methods of drafting:

 

- write the whole thing

- write a section/scene/chapter at a time then go back and refine it, edit, tinker, amend. When you're ready, move onto the next section/scene/chapter.

- follow a plan

 

Whichever camp you fall into, just remember:

 

Rule Number 4: ALWAYS SAVE AND BACK-UP YOUR WORK

 

But how should I write?

 

Post-its? Painted character family trees on the spare room wall? (Trust me, I'm tempted by this one). Name the characters after all your favourite trees? MS Word? Pen to Paper? Scrivener? Notebooks? (But, soo pretty, too pretty to write in).

 

Try all the ones you can. I mean it. You might feel ridiculous walking around shedding post-its that have fallen off the wall and gotten stuck to your foot, and you might not have a room wall to spare, but if you can get a free trial of Scrivener? Great. Used to MS Word? Start there while you figure out whether there's another method out there for you (I love MS Word and can't imagine writing on anything else). Want to scribble notes so you can range all over the page at free will with a liberal hand? Get another pretty notebook!

 

Find your own happy place for note-keeping and draft-writing and did I mention Rule Number 4 yet?

But when should I write?

 

In short, when you can. If you can only write once a week, then carve out that time. Dedicate it to yourself and your story.

BUT (there always seems to be one of those pesky little suckers somewhere... ------------------>) 

Lack of dedicated writing time doesn't mean you can't be working on your story.

 

- Talk to people about plot ideas or characters

- Read as much as you can, even if it's not in your chosen writing genre. This is especially useful for those days where you don't feel like you can write even though the time is there (we ALL have those days)

- Make brainstorming your meditation - when you're washing up, walking the dog, in the shower, wherever you end up, be thinking about your story.


Here are some questions to ask yourself:

 

- what is my character's biggest flaw?

- how am I handling the timescale of day and night scenes, or time in between plot points?

- Do I have any bits I'm struggling with - what would my favourite author/character/person do?

- If someone else was to answer these questions, what would they say?

- What could go wrong if I was to be really evil? Remember the Dr Pepper ad, 'What's the worst that could happen'? This is what you want to be considering throwing at your protagonist.

WARNING: This may inspire ideas.

Ideas are great, but not if you leap from the shower like a graceful wildebeest to write something down and end up smashing yourself through the wall.

The main purpose of the draft is to get your story down. In the immortal words of Neil Gaiman(Pratchett? check) "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story."

 

You don't give birth to a child and expect it to sit it's GCSE's from the hospital cot.

You don't plant a seed and go back an hour later to ask why it's not a lemon tree (well, unless you're REALLY impatient like me).

 

So what is the main thing to bear in mind when drafting, other than Rule Number 4: ALWAYS SAVE AND BACK UP YOUR WORK?

Keep. Going.

 

It's going to feel sticky and inelegant. You're going to have days where you can't face writing, or you hate your WIP. There will be those days (many of them) where you take one look at Twitter and it's a confetti bomb of people getting book deals and agents, or simply just having a great writing day where you are struggling with the desire to write down 'the'. 

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