NaNoWriMo can be an inspiring month for new novel writers. The strict schedule and looming deadline conjures up the creative juices, and many first-time authors complete their debut manuscript in record time. And then, unfortunately, they read that First Draft.
And vomit. They vomit for days. Endless expulsions.
Why do First Drafts suck so hard? Not only are they difficult to write, but they often come out reeking of cliche and borderline plagiarism. There's little characterization, few memorable bits of dialogue, and a set piece battle pulled straight from the Charlie Brown Goes to Mordor special.
How do you write a First Draft that sings? One that leaps from the page into the eager minds of your audience? Well, after years of hammering out reams of nonsensical wordage, I've learned the secret. And--even better for you, loyal reader--I'm going to share that secret with you. I'm handing out the keys to the kingdom. It's a fire sale. Everything must go.
So what is the secret to writing a killer First Draft? How do you lay down perfection on try numero uno?
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Your First Draft is going to be hot garbage. The initial attempt at writing a story/script/novel/love letter is going to be a soggy mess that begs for the sweet release of death. You will envision a world of ethereal beauty, only to end up writing fifty pages about the grimy corners of sewer grates that never get truly clean again. And there is nothing you can do to change it.
The First Draft is a mind dump. No matter how much pre-production work you put in, no matter how savvy your outline might be, your First Draft will stink like a zombie orgy. And that's okay. In fact, if you talk to any writer at any point in their career, they will say the same.
The First Draft is meant to be terrible. It's your way of getting all the terrible out at first. Clearing the chamber, if you will, so that you can make your next shot count.
You might not know who your protagonist is when you start writing, and that knowledge may not arrive until Act 2. Don't worry. That's what rewrites are for!
You might start a great thread and then drop it, or come up with a killer narrative connection at the very end of a scene. You are literally in control of every aspect of that story. Go back and fix it.
It is very easy to become discouraged when you read through your initial take on a story. You'll question everything, doubt your own abilities, and dream about becoming a skunk farmer like your grandpappy. DON'T!
Your First Draft is meant to be hated. That's why you don't publish it. Instead, use that mulligan to get a better sense of the story you want to tell. As many a famous writer has said, the real talent is in the rewrite. Give yourself a few days, let your recovery vices leave your system, and get back to work. That Second Draft isn't going to write itself.