First draft

You’ve probably noticed that on this 15-step guide on how to write a novel, the first 10 are related to preparing and planning. This is deliberate.

According to agents and publishers, the majority of novels are rejected due to their poor execution and planning. And, guess what? You are more likely to write a well-planned novel if you take the time and bother to plan it all in detail.

If you decide to forget about planning and jump straight to writing, that’s alright. However, most probably your first project will end up being a structural disaster, and by consequence, you’ll have to apply all the planning techniques during the revision stage.

Even though some people will tell you that the only, truly creative part in a novel is writing, they’re wrong. In fact, starting from a blank sheet of paper and filling it with characters, places, and events, and using more than your imagination is the definition of creativity.

Some authors will tell you that writing a first draft of a novel is complete agony. And there is some truth to that. In fact, it is precisely at this moment that a writer’s block begins to lurk. But if you’ve got the scenes picked, planned, and also written down, then the key to your novel lies in the previous step and you won’t be blocked.

If you embark with a positive mind, there is no reason why filling a few hundred pages with words, will impede you from having an enjoyable experience.

New comers to writing make the biggest mistakes at this point: writing while properly phrasing and editing (that is to say, spitting out a sentence and immediately trying to improve it). Don’t do this. The first projects are simply to put the plot on black and white, regardless of how terrible the prose is.

There are two ways to write a novel, one is writing it all at once till you finish the first draft, and two is writing chapter by chapter revising each one before continuing. For the latter you’ll only need to repeat the revision steps for each chapter instead of the entire novel. It doesn’t matter which way you follow, the result shouldn’t change.


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