We’ve previously explored growing your story idea. Today’s topic – the first draft – needs a bit of introduction as there are several ways to approach creating the first draft.
Catching the idea
Evaluating the idea
Growing the idea
Reading the draft
Revision and self editing
Critique group feedback
Rewriting or recreating
<<GO TO Critique group feedback, if needed>>
Writers seem to fall into or between one of two categories – those who plan the draft and those who don’t. Some of us fall somewhere in the middle. (I’m raising my hand here.)
NOTE: A short story usually requires much less planning or forethought than writing a novel. Keep that in mind during the rest of this discussion.
This is also the phase where the first bits of research will start. Some stories will require more research than others. It’s up to the writer to determine the right amount of research needed to help produce a story that is believable.
So if you like to plan before you write, what are some of your options? You might use an outline, index cards, storyboard, spreadsheet, or software application, to name a few of the possibilities. Some writers plan a little and others a lot. There are many ways to go about this, so the trick is to experiment and figure out what works best for you. One advantage to planning your story is that is much easier and faster to adjust a plan than it is a story after it’s drafted. For some the disadvantage to planning before drafting is that it takes the excitement and spontaneity out of writing the draft.
After some initial research, I normally freewrite my draft. For my current project, a YA (young adult) urban/paranormal fantasy novel, I’m using software, yWriter5, to track characters and explore scenes and subplots. (NOTE: yWriter5 is freeware, and I’m amazed at what it can do considering it’s no cost to the writer. You can find more information here: http://download.cnet.com/yWriter-5/3000-2079_4-77524.html )
I doubt that I would do anything near this level of pre-planning (at least for me) for a short story. I plan on keeping with freewriting my short stories.
While I usually do not plan my stories, including novels, I do a lot of thinking about my idea before I begin a draft. A lot of this takes place in the background of my mind. I’ll even dream about my plot, setting, and characters That’s why I consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle of those who plan and those who don’t.
No matter if you plan or not, we all reach the time when we’re ready to sit down and write our story. So the next question is – where do I begin? Should I start at the beginning and write straight through to the end of the story? Should I write the ending first? Or the beginning and the ending, followed by the middle section? Try different methods and see what feels comfortable and right for you. You might vary your approach, depending on the story and its length.
Sometimes I like to sit in front of the laptop to write. Other times I use my AlphaSmart Neo (a word processor) when I’m away from the laptop, or I decide to use pen and paper. I sometimes like the feel of writing long hand. When I’m not sure what to do with a scene, it puts me in a different “space” and I can let the writing flow. What works best for you?
Another option is to record your words using a digital recorder. The disadvantage of this is that you still need to get the words into a document of some kind.
Once you’ve figured out how to approach your story, the fun begins. You sit down and write.
To help you finish your draft, consider setting some daily goals. How long will you write? How many pages or how many words? Keep track of your advancement in some way for motivation and seeing your progress.
The objective is to get the words on the page.
Question for today: How do you approach writing your draft?