6 Things to Consider After You Write Your First Draft

Here are a few things to consider after you’ve written your first love—uh—I mean draft.
Author:
Publish date:

Her chocolate brown hair fell over the back of her desk onto mine. You might as well have put me in the stocks, the medieval stretcher, than to place me directly behind her. Sixth grade’s goddess of all goddesses. Her name alone gnawed at hormones I never knew I had. Penelope Davenport. Though it took two months, I finally drummed up enough courage to say hello, and I was shocked. She gave me a few moments of her time.

(9 Ways You Succeed When Your First Draft Fails)

“We have science together, right?” she said, my jaw bouncing off the speckled floor.

I sit right behind you! You swing your hair in my face daily! I’ve even picked up your pencil once or twice when you’ve dropped it!

I know it sounds crazy, but I didn’t care. We’d made small-talk, and that’s all it took before I’d pledged my heart to her. Those were the best three days of my life. Yeah—I said three days. Why? Todd Stevens. The Todd Stevens, quarterback, blonde hair, blues eyes, already on steroids Todd Stevens. My first love gone like my allowance ‘cuz I used it to buy her a ring. I was so sure she was the one.

I was so sure she was the one. How many times have we completed a paragraph or a chapter even and swore that even Steven King would be jealous? That first draft—so easy to fall in love with because of the countless hours you’ve spent together. Drawing upon the muse and flooding the page with your once-in-a-lifetime story!

Most writers experience what I like to call the Writing Zone. Not unlike the Twilight Zone, we finish a section of our novel or short story and bask in the mystery. Where on earth did that come from? Like one of my favorite episodes with William Shatner who sees the monster on the airplane wing 30,000 feet in the air. We float as well because the words came so easily. The characters had a voice, and all we had to do was translate it. Every dot and title worked to perfection. We do what most experts say to do and leave it alone for a few days, come back, and it’s still the best thing we’ve ever written. Oh—but is it really?

A songwriter for over thirty years, on occasion I’ve written a lyric/song in around ten minutes and never had to touch it again, but that was rare. Extremely rare. Here are a few things to consider after you’ve written your first love—uh—I mean draft.

6 Things to Consider After You Write Your First Draft

1. Sensory details

Will the reader see, taste, smell, feel, and hear your story? Or will you leave too much to their imagination? I’m not talking about sensory overload like some writers insist on doing, but enough to place the reader into your setting.

NINE Sample 5

NINE by D.M. King

2. Beta readers

Don’t rely on yourself to decide if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Bring in some trusted readers to see what they think. As objective as we think we can be about our own writing, we can never be objective enough.

3. Read it out loud

Some sentences look amazing on the page, but when you read them out loud, oh boy. Tongue twisters annoy some readers. Too much alliteration can give your prose a sing-songy feel. Unless that’s the effect you are striving for, reading aloud can help you catch those awkward places.

4. Pick up a novel in your genre and read it

There’s nothing like a little comparison contrast when it comes to writing. Study how the writer sets up the ends of chapters, creates tension and suspense in the reader, and writes action/ dramatic scenes. Note their word choices and use of literary devices like metaphors and similes, personification.

6 Things to Consider After You Write Your First Draft

5. Set a time to begin editing

Take a chapter at a time and focus on mechanical things like commas, run-ons, and ambiguity. Overuse of certain words or phrases. After that—make a list of concept-oriented edits where you make sure characters stay consistent, you don’t head hop, and you have added enough twists to keep the reader reading.

6. The payoff

Read and re-read the ending over and over again like it’s new each time. Picture yourself as a reader getting to the end of your novel. They have invested time into your story, so did you deliver an ending they’ll find satisfying? Or did Cousin Burt save the day with his magic toilet brush just in the nick of time?

Go ahead and treat it like your first love for a while. But don’t be afraid of recognizing a few flaws. The BEST thing about anything we write is the simple fact that if it stinks like Limburger cheese, it can be fixed/changed. It can become that nearly perfect love of your life.

After all—we are traveling through another dimension, a dimension of not only sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Writing Zone! First loves? Tuck away the fond memory and find someone who’ll love you, long nose hairs and all. Even if you can’t throw a football.

Get a clear idea of how to revise your writing and make your work stand out! Use our 2nd Draft Services along with our webinars and to develop your writing skills, land an agent, and secure a book deal!

Get a clear idea of how to revise your writing and make your work stand out! Use our 2nd Draft Services along with our webinars and to develop your writing skills, land an agent, and secure a book deal!

Click to continue.

Sole vs. Soul (Grammar Rules)

Sole vs. Soul (Grammar Rules)

Learn how to distinguish the sole from the soul with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Writing Workshop or Conference

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Writing Workshop or Conference

In this brave new world of virtual learning and social distance, Kristy Stevenson helps us make the most of the virtual conference.

When Is Historical Accuracy Inaccurate?

When Is Historical Accuracy Inaccurate?

Writers of historical fiction must always ride the line between factual and fictitious. Here, author Terry Roberts discusses how to navigate that line.

What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

In this post, we look at what creative nonfiction (also known as the narrative nonfiction) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing and more.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Four WDU Courses, a Competition Deadline Reminder, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce four WDU courses, a Competition deadline reminder, and more!

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask is a humorous and handy column by literary agent Barbara Poelle. In this edition, she discusses the next big fiction trend, and whether or not all books are the same.

From Script

A Change in Entertainment Business Currency and Disrupting Storytelling with Historical Significance (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, learn about how crypto currency is making a wave in the entertainment business, what percentages really mean in film financing, the pros and cons of writing partnerships, an exclusive interview with three-time NAACP Image Awards nominee, co-creator and former showrunner of CBS’ 'S.W.A.T.' Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is putting off submissions.

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

Have you ever considered outlining after finishing your first draft? Kris Spisak walks you through the process.