In Writers Write, we cover a lot in a month of Saturdays – practical writing exercises, a discussion of theme and genre, building plot and characters, as well as pacing and publishing.
However, when getting the first draft of a novel down, never forget your most important role – to be a storyteller.
Style is great, structure is essential, hitting certain plot highs and lows will give your story a rhythm but none of it is as important as capturing the heart of your story.
Keep these five pointers in mind when knocking out that first draft or if you’re attempting NaNoWriMo next week!
- Excitement, not perfection. A passion for your story is more important than first-time-round perfection. Readers will respond to this initial energy even when you’re finished with the edits.
- Curiosity feeds the cat. An outline or synopsis is invaluable to keep you on tack but don’t let it constrain you. Think of it as a blueprint rather than a finished building. Let the story ask questions – and follow the answers in your writing.
- Date your characters. Your characters will come to life in your first draft – this is the equivalent of those first nights out with a new date. Find out as much as you can about them as you write.
- Find your voice. Don’t try to imitate your favourite author, listen to your inner voice and try to get that on paper. If you’re writing in first person, try to ‘hear’ this character’s voice in your head.
- The Finish Line. Don’t, don’t, don’t go back and edit and change. Stick with your first instinct and idea for the novel until you’ve written ‘The End’. Trying to start again when you’re in a first draft is like trying to reverse a freewheeling car on a downhill slope: impossible.
Nothing beats the sense of excitement when you finish a first draft. Editing is the hard work – and it will come soon enough – but your first journey on a clean page is pure adventure. Embrace it.
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course.