Last week we explored the importance of prewriting in the writing process. Once you have completed that step, it is time to write. This week, we will take a look at how the first or working draft actually works. It is important to remember that no two writers have the same process or style, so there is no single catch all that works for all writers. So, what may work for me may not work for someone else. That being said, let’s take a look at how to take full advantage of your first draft.
A better name for your first or working draft is actually a rough draft. (I just like calling it a working draft.) The reason rough draft is better suited is that it describes it much more clearly. As a general rule, your first draft is, for lack of a better word, rough. For the most part, you are writing a skeleton story at this point. The meat will come when you move into the next stage.
There are three elements to keep in mind when starting your working draft.; 1) Getting your ideas onto paper before they are overlooked, 2) ensuring that the plot is progressing and making sense, and 3) making sure that your characters are acting in the manner according to the way you made them. In other words, the purpose of the working draft is to actually tell the story.
More than likely, after you have completed your outline and start your working draft, ideas are more than likely flowing quickly and you want to take advantage of that. It is more important to get your ideas down than it is to worry about every detail. You may be asking, “What about the details? Don’t they make the book?” The simple answer is, yes they do. The problem is, it becomes easy to get bogged down trying to get every last detail written down, meanwhile the idea you had for the next chapter has escaped into obscurity. That is exactly what you do not want to happen.
As a writer today, it is easy to become overwhelmed by word count. Each genera has a specified word count for a typical book. While word count is important to keep in mind, do not get discouraged if your working draft seems a bit anemic. Working on the polished draft will take care of that. Instead, pay more attention on your plot and characters. By having a solid outline, you are able to follow it and hit all of your key plot points and you can tell your story well.
When writing a story, it is easy to forget that it is a process. So many of us get caught up in the excitement and rush through or brush past easy ways of making the process easier. A writer’s mind is in perpetual motion. Ideas come to us constantly, especially when we are in a creative atmosphere. It becomes difficult to remain in the here and now. A working draft helps with such a mind. There is no problem if a sentence does not sound perfect or leaving specific details out of a description. A working draft is all about progress. It is seeing the forest, not each individual tree.
Now that we have discussed the working draft, next week we will dive into the polished draft of your manuscript. Until that time, keep your pens, pencils or computer keys going and write your hearts out.