Writing Tips for Beginners: The Skeleton: Writing your first draft

Now that you have your writing space and instruments all picked out, you’re ready to get your first draft written. Important to remember: your first draft will not be 100%. That’s okay. No one’s ever is. As many writers note, don’t worry about getting it right. Get it written. Anything that needs to be fixed will get worked out in editing. But you can’t work out anything if you don’t have anything.

One of my professors said he can’t move on to the next chapter until he has the current chapter perfect. This has never worked for me. In fact, I’ve often found that many writers never make it out of the first draft for trying to edit the whole way through. If this is your first novel, I’d suggest waiting until your first draft is complete before editing. After that, experiment with different editing techniques and see how it goes.

At his Comic Con panel, Rick Riordan said, “A story is never done. It’s only due.” You’re not going to get your novel perfect the first time. You’re not going to get it perfect the tenth time. There will always be something you want to change or ideas you want to add. (That’s why there are so many editions of different work.) Attempting to perfect your story the first time around will likely kill your story.

Your first draft is your chance to bring life into your story. This is your chance to physically see you work and ideas before your eyes.

At this point, whether you’ve outlined or not, you put your cards on the table in the best order you can, knowing you can rearrange what you need to afterwards.

I refer to the first draft as the Skeleton because that’s what you have when you’re finished. The bare, dry, bones of your story. And it is arguably the most important element of the story-writing process.


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