My mind is full of characters. Some have names, some have faces; some have both, some have neither. Evil villains, fantastical creatures, ordinary woman, handsome men, troublesome children, meddlesome grandmothers, disillusioned side-kicks, slobbering pets...
My mental notebook is full of plots: Historical battles, mythical lands, scandalous adventures, surprising coincidences, mistakes, mayhem and even ordinary days...
My electronic files are filled with character charts, plot lines, mind-maps, research, writing resources...and, unfortunately, a whole lot of unread, abandoned and incomplete stories.
What is the secret to completing a first draft?
There are a lot of us who’d like to know the answer to that question. To those of us who’ve never done it, it seems like a big mystery. How do you start? How do you finish? How do you make your characters real? How do you drive the plot? How do you fix the middle—how do you get a middle?
So, like I’ve done with any other question I have had in the past ten years...I Googled it.
Not surprisingly, “write a draft novel” turned up a number of results. (I wonder if there is a statistic on the number of people trying to write a novel?) The first result was a link that led to a page of ads—not helpful. The second link was about writing using the Snowflake Method (I have one very advanced plot thanks to this link—the novel is still unfinished though). The third link talked about manila envelopes??? The fourth had a few helpful tips like “write every day” but nothing in the way of a concrete strategy.
Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of helpful information out there. So, how do you do it? How do you get all your ideas down on paper? How do you make the characters and events in your head come alive? How do you make them real for other people?
I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. (Sorry if you thought I had some magical formula.)
But I do know what won’t work...
My Top 10 Ways to Ensure You Will Never Finish a First Draft
10. Make writing it your 2011 New Year’s resolution.
9. Sit in front of a blank screen and wonder what to write about.
8. Worry about what other people will think.
7. Forget to write.
6. Research without a specific goal.
5. Delete everything you don’t like.
4. Find the perfect words.
3. Wait until you have time.
2. Tell yourself you can’t.
And the number one way to ensure your will never complete your first draft....
1. Don’t try.
Maybe some of the draft-writing pros out there can help the rest of us. How do you go about writing your first draft? What does your first draft look like? How do you keep yourself on track? What motivates you to keep writing? What is your secret?