My Top 5 First Draft Tips
|Tapping for the inner critic, CYA masterclass
1) Send your inner critic on holiday. The meanie voice – my editor’s technical term – is not helpful in a first draft. In fact, it’s extremely detrimental. (I use EFT for this, but you can use any self talk that works for you.) And don’t worry, it will come back when you’re editing.
If the critic creeps back and points out that what you’ve just spent the last three days writing is complete garbage, tell it you don’t care. Every bit of garbage you write is teaching you more about your story. Even if you throw out every word in subsequent drafts, your first draft will have done its job.
|Early draft of Dragonfly Song -when Aissa was Aisha
4) Don’t stop just because you’re stuck in one spot. If you find you’ve got a character without a name, call it Joe* or Jane* or just plain X or *. The name is likely to be much more obvious when you’ve written more of the story.
If a whole scene is stalling you, just skip it. Put in a chapter marking and whatever thoughts you have, even if it’s just ‘Linking Scene or Passage of time??’
The brighter side is – if you have a scene that is exceptionally clear in your head or demands to be written because it is in line with your own mood at the moment – just do it. If it’s that clear, it’s probably a pivotal point in the book. Writing it may help clarify all the steps towards it.
|A new first draft, 2 years later
Keep moving forward, no matter what.
Have faith that you will find the best way to tell this story; even if it takes more drafts and experiments than you hoped, each step and misstep will take
you closer to that best.
Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio