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The First Draft - Walter Shillington's Author's Workshop

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Writing Skills

We’ve all heard stories of authors who agonize for hours; composing, deleting and rewriting the first paragraph of their novel.  They intend to get it right and won’t move on until it’s perfect.

Don’t do that.  The first draft is a rough draft and it’s expected to be awful.  Save the brilliant stuff for the rewrite.

I compose a 2,400 word episode during the first three days of every week.  The next two days are used to convert this mess into something readable.  I edit the following day and, just before the episode is published, I go over it again.

During the writing phase I attempt to turn out one third of the episode each day.  I don’t always make it; creative energy tends to ebb and flow, but over the three day period, the job gets done.

When you compose the first draft of a chapter you must meet three objectives.  Advance the plot, further define your characters, and entertain the reader.   Sometimes authors write what I call a maintenance chapter.  This is used to tie up loose ends and give a bit of background that is useful down the road.   I don’t recommend this practice – it smacks of poor writing – but if you do, ensure this chapter also meets the three objectives listed above. listed above.

When I first started writing I planned to the finish the entire book before beginning the editing process.  That worked poorly because I’d often look back and become discouraged by my awkwardly written prose.  For me, the best method is to write a chapter, rewrite, and then move on.  I suggest you experiment with different methods and use the one that works for you.

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