The Rough Draft

I pumped out a rough draft of that portal fantasy/contemporary fantasy the first week of November, which I think is good. That was my goal.

Rough draft.

It is rough around the edge, the plot is watery and all over the place, the mystery of the haunting doesn’t make sense, and the main character at the end isn’t the main character I started out with.

But it is a rough draft.

It is a foundation for the next year of editing, revising, and thinking that I’ll put into it. I will draft and draft and draft, and with each draft I will change things a little bit. I will work out the bumps in the plot when I come to them, until the plot and character arcs make sense and flow.

This is why it is important to just get that rough draft down. Because the rest of the writing process follows that rough draft, and without it, the rest cannot follow.

I love the writing advice of “the first draft is you telling yourself the story.” Because it is true. The first draft is you – the author – exploring your characters, testing what works and what doesn’t, exploring the world, feeling out the plot. It is setting two characters together and seeing what happens. It is writing without editing, writing without backspacing. It is an exploration for the author to better understand their characters and plot, not to write pretty sentences with expert grammar.

The more books you write, the better you will be at writing rough drafts.

Looking at all the mess of the rough draft, that feat seems impossible. But I have done it before, and I will do it again. I can attest that the first rough draft that I wrote, the first story I hammered from rough draft to first draft, was the hardest. Each subsequent rough draft came easier.

My first rough draft was horrible. My first book, after editing and revisions and brave beta readers, was still – arguably – horrible. I didn’t know what I, as an author, needed in order to move forward with a rough draft. I didn’t know what would stay or go, and so I just made it up as I went. With no mind for plot or character arc or purpose. And the final draft reflected that, but that’s not the point. That is a different post.

The point is that you need the rough draft before you have hammer it into a first draft, and you need a first draft before you can shake out a second draft, and so on – until you finally have what you believe is the best version of the story you want to tell. Then it’s time for beta readers.

It all begins with that rough draft with the watery plot and flat characters.

So go write. 

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