If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you probably know I’m not one for planning before I write the first draft of a story. I’ve tried it, and I just never stick to the plan. It’s a waste of time for me. I prefer diving right into a story and dealing with problems as they present themselves. Today I thought I’d talk a little bit about my drafting process.
Some people claim that every writer is a planner because most writers go through multiple drafts of a story, so your first draft is your plan. I don’t believe in arguing with strangers on the internet, especially about something as minor as drafting stories, so…Whatever.
For me, a rough draft (or a zero draft) is a quick and dirty version of my book. It doesn’t feel like a plan or an outline, it feels like a novel. It’s an ugly novel with bad pacing, info dumps, and settings that look like sketchy white rooms, but it’s still a novel. There’s a main character with a goal, something stopping them from reaching that goal, conflict, dialogue, the whole nine yards. It may not be perfect, but that’s not the point. The point of a rough draft, for me, is to figure out the beginning, middle, and end of the story. That’s it.
I have a few goals for a rough draft.
- Establish a macro world and micro worlds
- Rough out my major characters
- Figure out the major conflicts
- Write out the main plot and get an idea of subplots
What I do in the second draft, and really in all subsequent drafts, depends on how the rough draft turned out.
In my current novel, I eventually reached a point where I couldn’t continue writing because I was missing a major character. I had known something was missing for a while, but I got about 3/4 of the way through the story before I figured out what that was. Basically, my antagonist needed a henchman to do his dirty work. This character is a real villain–he’s downright evil–and he’s going to appear several times throughout the story.
I also need to rewrite certain elements of the main plot.
I suspect I’m going to have a massively different story by the time I finish the second draft, but it should still loosely follow the chain of events from the rough draft.
Goals for the second draft:
- Work the villain’s scenes into the rest of the story
- Rewrite the deuteragonist’s storyline so it fits in better with the main plot
- Make the protagonist more dynamic
I’m hesitant to say what I might do in later drafts of my story because things are still in early stages. I’d guess that I’ll have less work to do as I refine ideas and details become more solid, but we’ll see. Sometimes you think you’re on the right track, and then a critique shows you that you’re way off base.
It’s too soon to worry about all that, though. For now, I’m just going to work on what I know is problematic and deal with the rest when I get to it.
Do you have a system for drafting stories? Feel free to share your experience in the comments.