Saturday, 16 July 2011

On writing the first draft

I recently read a blog post from an author who sort of 'insisted' to write a draft in one go before editing it. First, I don't like being told what to do and second, that technique might work for her, but not for me. I've never really been like that, write like there's no tomorrow and edit when you've completed the book.
Even with No Wings Attached, which was my first novel, I wrote at night and edited the next day, then sent it to my friend who returned it with comments, so I could revise. I don't know any different and it works well for me. I still managed to have the 'first draft' ready after 2.5 months. Needless to say that my friend did a light edit and I had to learn a lot about writing, which I didn't know back then. It almost cost me the novel as I wanted to throw it into the Thames after the 10th round of editing. I cut out 40k, changed bits here and there, rewrote complete scenes, etc. I grew very tired of it.
Now, two years later, I still work the same way: I write, then edit the next day. The only difference is that I don't have my friend going through it chapter by chapter and that my writing is much tighter, so I end up with a pretty polished first draft. I also write slower, which means, I think about what I'm writing, I try to avoid repetition, he said, she said where it's clear who speaks, control my use of adverbs and make sure everything flows. That's my way of working on the first draft.
I'm 20k into the sequel and it already took me as long as the complete first book, but then, when I'm done in about two months, I need to go through it maybe two more times and it's ready for proofing. But 4 months writing and 1 months editing is much quicker than writing 2.5 months writing and 2 years of editing.

My advice for anyone out there is: do whatever suits you best. :-)


  1. What's most important for new and established writers is how you plot. The editing and writing itself are different skills that can be learned but to bang out novels quickly, plot help is key.

    Yes though, write in whatever method suits you. I prefer to knock out the first draft as I read from Candace Haven's Fast Draft Hell, then go through Revision hell the same way.

  2. Oh, I don't like revision hell - not since I've been there, got thrown the t-shirt at me and yelled after me, "Bloody hell, don't ever come back!" :-)