First drafts and why they stink

So there it is. The coveted first draft. 459 pages of … pure garbage.

A friend of mine asked if she could read my manuscript now that I have finished it. My response?

Hell no!

Don’t get me wrong. I feel immensely proud of the fact that I have managed to write 90k+ words that somehow tell a story. I feel like a massive weight has been lifted from me now that I’ve managed to get all of those words out of my brain and onto paper.

But it’s a first draft.

First drafts are designed to be crap. It’s what they’re there for.

Although I am feeling amazing for completing it and am having some much needed time away from it; I know in the back of my mind that there is a huge amount of editing that needs to take place before it gets anywhere near the stage that I want people to read it.

I mean, seriously…I changed a character’s name halfway through. I changed the protagonists back story halfway through so the first two chapters no longer make sense with the rest of the book. It’s cringeworthy.


“By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” ─ Roald Dahl


But, it’s there. It’s down on paper. And it’s a starting point to create something new.I’ve read a lot about authors and first drafts. It’s emboldening to know that even some of the best authors write crummy first drafts. Take J.K. Rowling. It’s been reported that she rewrote the first chapter of The Philosopher’s stone so many times that it bears no resemblance to her early drafts. And even one of my all time heroes Ronald Dhal said that “good writing comes from rewriting”. So maybe there is hope for me yet!


“Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her pushchair, I would dash to the nearest café and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it.” J.K.Rowling


When I have had a little more time away from it, I’ll sit down with a nice coloured pen (my husband tells me it can’t be red because that’s too negative – personally I always loved the red pen!) and scribble the shit outta that thing.

And hopefully, draft number 2 will be infinitely better.

15 thoughts on “First drafts and why they stink

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      1. I don’t know why but “fantasy” r really huge books. I’m often seeing them in the store and always passing by …kinda scared of them lol 😂
        I’m too lazy to edit. Plus I can do only 500-1000 words a day, no more. To write in English is very difficult- not my mother tongue:)
        Oh, I think draft 2 will be the happiest moment for u, me, ud…when it’s done 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? That’s interesting. To be honest I am chomping at the bit and desperate to get going with the editing process. But everything I have read and heard suggests that this “time off” is so important. So I am writing, but in a different way – blogging, planning and character sheets etc. I found that the first draft just spilled out of me so easily (that’s why it’s so bad, haha!) that I’m a bit worried that editing the damn thing is going to take me the next ten years. At least to get it to a decent standard anyway!

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  1. I always wait at least two weeks to read a manuscript. A month if I read it while I was writing it, which is something I try to avoid doing. I have a 50K-word novel somewhere, written for NaNoWriMo 2013, that I still haven’t read. 😛 I really should look for that one of these days.
    Congratulations on finishing! Quite the feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

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    1. Yeah it really is 🙂 I’m sitting looking at my manuscript. It’s been a week since I finished it and I’m so torn between desperately wanting to start editing and being terrified to get started. I’ve taken to blogging furiously instead and reading. What do you do in your two week/month long “time off” from it?

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      1. Other than bite my nails to the quick if it’s something I want to get at? I blog. You’re doing it right. 🙂
        If it doesn’t make the itch worse, I’d also absorb yourself in blogs that focus on writing advice. I can’t recommend Kristin Lamb enough, and there are some excellent articles on Reedsy and the Writer’s Digest blog, among others.
        Good luck! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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