The first draft is something everyone seems to dread. How do you start? How long will it take? The blank page can really take a toll on you and your creativity. But what exactly is the first draft? What does it mean? There’s a lot more to first drafts than we give them credit for.
What is the first draft?
It is, more or less, what it sounds like. It’s the very first draft of an idea. It’s out of your head and now it’s on paper. Except, a lot of people seem to think that the first draft is the hard part. And it is for some, but it all comes down to this: the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
There’s no right or wrong. There’s no need to edit. There’s no need to get it all perfect the first time. Some elements of the first draft may stay, but most of it may get edited out later. You’re just beginning your journey, getting to know your characters, and getting a feel for your plot. As you write the first draft, you’ll get new ideas. You’ll find plot holes. You may realize one character has a larger purpose than you originally intended.
Do I have to write a first draft?
Uh, yeah? I mean, if you don’t write a first draft, then you’ll never start. Unless you’re a master procrastinator and don’t want to start, then no. Don’t bother writing that first draft.
Does the first draft have to be complete?
No, I don’t think so. I have a few novels on their x-amount of drafts and there are a few of them where the first draft isn’t complete. It definitely helps if the first draft is completed so you have a well thought out plot or novel. Even if it’s all gibberish. However, I sometimes don’t have the inspiration to finish the first draft. By the time I get to the end or even sometimes the middle, the characters are so vastly different and my ideas for the plot no longer make sense with what I originally started off with. So, I leave the first draft as is and start on my second draft without even bothering to edit. It’s like draft 1.5.
The first draft is the best draft.
Why? Because it helps you get started. And I think we all know that getting started is the hardest step of anything.