Writing Tips

Fixing A Disastrous First Draft

Now that NaNo is officially over, it’s time to start thinking about the edit, or in my case, rewrite because nothing I wrote is worth saving this time around. So you wrote a terrible first draft! It happens to everyone. In my case, I had no idea where I was going or who my characters were. I thought perhaps they would reveal themselves to me as we got going, but though they did show some characteristics in the end, I largely still don’t know who they are. So how do we fix that?

In my case, I need to go back to the drawing board. I tend to do this by hand. Take out a notebook and write stuff down as it comes to me. About the characters, about the setting, about motivations, desires, limits. I’m not a huge plotter, but I’ve got a leg up here in that I’ve already created a very basic, thin plot with the first draft. From there, it’s a lot easier to figure out where you went wrong and what needed to be changed.

My first step is to figure out the characters since they largely drive a story. A plot takes you where you want to go, but the characters have to get you there. So far, I don’t know much about them, despite being 50k words into their lives. So it’s time to make those decisions I’d hoped they’d kind of do for me. Alas, I am the author, after all.

Once you’ve got them down, that should help guide your plot. Would they go after the bad guy? Would they make the first move in a relationship? That changes things.

So go forth and fix that rough draft. Maybe you do need to start over. Maybe you just need to redefine a character. Whatever it is, you can do it.

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