All First Drafts are Bad – my take

draft-stampHey all! So this is a post that I’ve been working on for several months.  I kept coming to it, starting it, and then promptly ignoring it for weeks at a time.  I think I originally started writing it during a super cold snap in Wisconsin.  Now it is June.


OH!  I am looking for beta-readers for future novel projects.  I already have 2-3 of them, plus my editor, but I figure one or two more sets of eyes would be perfect.  Send me a message here or an email if you’re interested.

So today I figured I’d talk about the whole stigma on first drafts. You know. The popular belief that all first drafts are terrible.  That they don’t deserve to see the eyes of others.  That whole thing.

Here I am sitting with the unpopular belief that not all first drafts suck.

But first drafts are messy!

Yeah. First drafts can be a real mess. They sometimes have plot holes. Or unresolved plot lines. Or characters lack characterization.  Sometimes not enough happens in the story, sometimes too much happens.

So yes, there are problems with first drafts.

I’ll admit that.  That there are problems with first drafts.

But I don’t think they inherently suck.  After all, you did something awesome.  You managed to write a novel, start to finish.  It might be rough around the edges and have fifteen unresolved plots – but you finished it.

And really, someone other than you needs to look at the first draft.  Namely your beta readers and editor.

Why they aren’t all that awful

Like I said, you did something really cool.  You made a world and characters and filled that with words and scenes.  Oftentimes, I’ve found that the first draft is sometimes a bit more…passionate.  Energetic.  It has all that excited energy of creating something new.  I like them for that.  Sometimes it hurts a bit to see how bad the writing was in some areas, but looking back often brings back that initial feeling.

How awesome it was to write that.

And sometimes…there are amazing bits of writing that come from first drafts.  You know.  That one scene that just works.  That when you wrote it you knew exactly how it was going to work and for once, it worked just liked that.  Fingers to keyboard to document it just worked.

First drafts are full of inspiration.

First drafts are that first step onto a journey of editing and maybe someday publication.

I love first drafts.  I’d never publish one, but I love them.

Really.  They aren’t that awful.  They’re just unpolished.

With a bit of love and time, they turn into something amazing.

How does everyone else feel about first drafts?



7 thoughts on “All First Drafts are Bad – my take

  1. I agree! First drafts may be raw and not ready for the public eye (or anyone’s eyes, for that matter) but it’s what the later drafts come from, so there has to be something there! Looking through some of my first drafts, I see a lot of awful stuff, but I also see the good stuff that made me want to write the book in the first place.

    • Exactly! I always wind up re-reading that one scene that I saw before I knew the rest of the story and sit there and grin like an idiot. Because that’s the scene that made me want to write the book in the first place and I’m just happy that I wrote it.

      I do think beta-readers should see the book at that stage, though! That way you have some direction for your revisions. After all, you can’t always see your own mistakes.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Yes, that feeling is just so great! Makes all the horrible days of feeling like you’re getting no where and writing nothing worth it.
        Yes, beta-readers are definitely useful. I haven’t had any read my whole books (just a chapter or two from write clubs) but one day I hope I can find some sort of writer’s group that offers those kind of people.

        • It really does. That’s one of the joys of editing – going back and finding those awesome scenes.

          I posted on Facebook that I was looking for beta-readers. A lot of my friends are creatively inclined and voracious readers, so that really makes it easy for me to find them. I’ve found its good to get a few who are writers (for the structural things that might need work) and then a few who are just readers (so you have an idea of how the general public will like your work).

          • Right. That’s a good way to find beta-readers. I use my brother sometimes when he’s up to it, because I know he’ll be honest with me. I do need to get some people who aren’t family, though, haha. Maybe I will post on Facebook, or else find a new book club to join.

            • Good luck with your beta-reader search! One of the reasons I decided to get a few more was that I didn’t want to overtax any of them. And because I figure not all projects are good for everyone. Different interests and all.

  2. Pingback: Creative Ventures and Comparing Yourself to Others | Rants from a Starving Writer

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