How to Finish That First Draft

I thought it an appropriate post for today because that is where I’m at right now with a project that, until a month ago, was entirely unplanned. Yes, yes, details to follow on the wings of a book update. But not today. Because I want to finish the first draft first. And I’m writing this post to encourage you with your first draft, and also to give myself a kick to finish mine. ūüôā¬† I know, I’m horrible.

But seriously. First. Drafts. Are. Torture.

Why? Because

1. You probably don’t know¬†exactly¬†how it’s going to end.

Figuring out an ending, at least for me, is almost impossible. It’s got to be just right. It has to be good. And that’s the tricky part.

2. You get halfway or so through the story and you realize .¬†.¬†. it’s RUBBISH!

writing doubt quote

We¬†all¬†get to this point, especially with the first draft. But fear not, there’s some potential there somewhere. And remember, there’s a ninety-percent chance it’s not as bad as you think. We writers can’t judge our own work. So don’t you dare throw it in the shredder until you let someone objectively read it. (Hear that, me??)¬†Or maybe a couple someones, to be safe.

 

Now let’s move on. That’s why the first draft is so hard, if you were not already aware. But there are certainly a few tricks in the book for finishing that first draft. In no specific order, some of these I’ve implemented, others I ought to. ūüôā

1. WRITE OUT ALL POSSIBILITIES FOR AN ENDING.

This one, of course, applies mostly to those of us who are¬†at¬†the end of our draft – and if you are, then you’re probably also at the end of your supply of coffee or tea or pretzels or apple cider or whatever else you use to keep your sanity during the writing process. I heartily recommend you treat yourself when all this nonsense is over.

Okay, yeah, I’m getting sidetracked. So, take out the good ol’ fashioned notebook and write out all the ideas you have for an ending. Then pick one. And if you can’t pick .¬†.¬†.

2. PICK AT RANDOM, WRITE IT, THEN HAVE A CRITIQUE PARTNER READ IT AND GIVE THEIR ADVICE AS TO AN ALTERNATE ENDING, IF NEEDED.

That title was quite self-explanatory. But you get the idea. Whatever you do, just plunge through. (See what that was, there?) Don’t stop to fuss over that lame adjective or that weak verb or that two-dimensional¬†character arc. You’ll worry about that in the editing process.

3. TAKE A SHORT –¬†SHORT!¬†– BREAK.

Take a couple days to breathe if you think that will help. It might give you a push to keep going, but don’t let a breather ruin your momentum.

4. OUTLINE, OUTLINE, OUTLINE.

Never take a plot outline for granted unless you’re not a planner when it comes to the writing process. A detailed outline, while it is bound to change and should be expected and allowed to change, can be invaluable as you put together your masterpiece. I could not write two chapters without an outline. However, note that a first draft is the one in which the plot and the characters will not bend to your will. That’s the second draft.

 

Whatever you do to push through the many treacherous adventures of the first draft, don’t stop writing. Do not take your word for it when your mind laments over the absurdity of every word you’ve just written. You know why that happens? I have a theory. Maybe it’s¬†because your heart would give a more favorable opinion than your mind regarding your book, but your heart has been shredded, scorched, and put back together with your characters, and therefore, by the end of the book, it refuses to keep up your optimism.

And now, let’s chat! What is your advice for conquering the giants in the first draft? Resupply your survival food and we’ll chat in the comments.

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