Peggy Bechko’s World: Writing the First Draft

prachettby Peggy Bechko

Writers are always digging for tips on how to do it quicker, better, more detailed, less so, whatever!

But I note the dreaded first draft is frequently skipped or maybe sort of glossed over. So, let’s take a look.

You’re a writer, you have a great idea, but all sorts of ‘tips’ are hanging you up. You don’t want to be too wordy, you worry about what your ‘first’ reader might think, you want to get everything just right – right from the beginning.
Not going to happen. Really.

The first draft is something the writer needs to spew onto paper. Doesn’t matter if it’s script, novel, or article. Whatever is being written needs to hit the paper or screen – black on white. And it’s where the writer gets to have some real fun.

Time to go with the gut. Be wordy, overwrite, let dialog flow any way it wants.

And, highest on the list is don’t worry about what anyone thinks. If you actually allow someone to read the first draft (something I haven’t done) then maybe you need to give a few guidelines noting how ‘rough’ it is.

Remember at this point you’re having fun, your characters are having fun and remember the ‘kill your darlings’ part doesn’t come until later. So – this is the time when you can really let your writing self go. After all, in writing you’re creating a new world.

The first draft is the time to get to know your story well, understand your characters and see what’s possible in the way of new subplots and conflicts. Maybe it can get much darker, maybe things will flip and humor will assert. This is the playground, the discovery zone.

And don’t forget that writer’s old friend, “what if?” What if, what if, what if. The perennial question. Let it loose and see where it can take you. Let your brain out to play. Don’t go in with fixed ideas that are utterly immoveable. There are exciting twists and turn s out there just waiting to be discovered.

What if is the magical key that opens many mental doors. What if the dog fell overboard? What if he made it to an island? What if an alien found the dog on the island?

Okay, maybe a bit ridiculous, but you see where it’s going. And no doubt as a writer you’ve used it before.

The first draft is the time to write without a filter. Go for originality.

Pacing you can think about later.

Overwritten can be easily remedied when the time does come to ‘kill your darlings.’

Look for the pearls that emerged and let them glow. All of the extraneous can be cut away during edits. But for the writer, the first draft is the place to let is all go and create something amazing, whether novel or screenplay or articles, even if it needs to be excavated from the clutter of words that overpopulate the piece later.

So crack out that first draft with speed and give yourself license to have fun. The serious work comes later.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page