Today I am happy to share a guest post written by Lindsey Richardson. Lindsey has plenty experience writing first drafts, and today she is going to share her best tips on how to rock the first draft of your novel. She has a wealth of valuable information packed into this post.
Lindsey is a fantasy/mystery author who enjoys making up worlds where magic exists. She currently has two series out right now: the Magicians and A Rose With Thorns. She has been both traditionally and self published. Lindsey is currently working on her 7th novel, Clara and Daphne. Besides writing, she also loves video games and her two adorable cats.
Let’s talk about writing your first draft.
Today I wanted to talk to you about writing your first draft, as I’m currently working on the first draft of my upcoming book, Clara and Daphne.
First drafts are both scary and exciting. Maybe this is your first story you’re writing, or maybe you’ve been at this for a while, but rest assured either way both aspiring and published writers struggle with first drafts.
How to Rock the First Draft of Your Novel
What to Remember Before You Write
The first thing to remember about first drafts is this: it’s you telling yourself the story. A friend of mine told me that, and it’s an excellent reminder. This first draft is for you and you alone. I can almost guarantee you a lot is going to change from your first draft to your final version of the book. So don’t panic, you’ve got this.
Second: write now, edit later. I can’t stress this enough, especially as someone who constantly wants to edit every sentence I write. Your inner editor will be tempted to take over; but don’t let it. You can edit later; that’s what second and third drafts are for. Let this first draft be rough, let it be loose and messy, let it have mistakes. Again only you are going to read this first draft, so no one has to know just how bad it really is.
What to Remember While You Write
Now when it comes to actually writing the first draft you may be asking yourself “where do I even begin?” It’s a big step to go from an idea to a full story, and it can get overwhelming if you start panicking over just how much there is to do.
So let’s look at what you can do from the start to help yourself as you figure out this story.
- Plot/Outline –some of you might be saying “but wait I’m not a plotter,” and believe me I hear you. Now everyone is different in regards to how much they like plotting or outlining. So if you’re not big on plotting I suggest at least writing down a list of key events you want to happen throughout the story (they don’t even need to be in order). This way you can always refer back to them if you get stuck.
- Characters –with first drafts you never know how many characters you’ll start out with or who you’ll come up with along the way. Some may change as you become more familiar with the story. Work with what you know, and sometimes quite honestly you figure out the rest as you go
- Scenes/chapters –when I work on a first draft I like to take it chapter by chapter. Instead of worry so much about the whole story I try to focus on one scene at a time. It might not flow the first time around, and that’s ok. Maybe your story’s all over the place, and that’s ok too. Just take it little by little. Parts you’re unsure about you can always leave blank and come back to later
- The beginning and the end –you’re telling a story. The best way to tell the story is to figure out what story you’re telling, and more importantly how you want it to end. If you have an ending in mind, or a rough idea of an ending then everything else is just working backwards from the end. You’re setting your readers up for where this story will end.
6 Tips for Getting Through the First Draft
There’s so much to say about first drafts, you guys! I wish I had enough time to tell you everything, but I’m going to leave you with some of my tips/tricks that I use to get through a first draft.
- I always keep a notebook by my side when I’m writing. This way if I have an idea, think of a problem I need to fix for later, or just need to doodle to relieve stress it’s right there.
- I typically use Google Docs or Ommwriter (it’s a distraction free writing program I highly recommend) as my main typing programs. This year I’ve grown to love Google Docs even more because I have a Chromebook and the instant saving feature makes it so easy to update, come back later and get right back to where you left off.
- When at a loss for character names I suggest going on baby name websites. There are so many names out there, and you can narrow it down for what you’re looking for. (For this current book I’m working on I’ve been looking for Greek names or at least Greek surnames)
- My chapters are typically short, like under 2k, but this time around I’ve just been ending and starting chapters whenever it feels right, and I figure out how to fix it later. I also usually use chapter titles, but again so far I haven’t bothered doing that because it’s something I can add in later.
- When I get stuck or feel unmotivated I listen to ambience music (usually from the Hollow Knight soundtrack) or I take a break a do something else, then come back to my writing again when I’m ready.
- I use a word tracking app called “Wordly” (only on IOS –sorry Android users!) and the sticker-calendar method to track my word count and progress. Check out my Instagram if you’re interested –I did a video there in more detail!
Well guys, that’s what I’m going to leave you with today! It’s been a pleasure being able to stop by and write up the post for you. I hope for anybody out there working on their first draft this can somehow help in some way!