Thursday, September 29, 2016

Writing a First Draft by Paul Greci

Tomato Seedlings

Right now I’m about three quarters of the way through a first draft. I’ve been writing most mornings before I go to work, usually putting about 750 to 1000 words on the page. (I've also been harvesting our garden, but more on that later.)

For every manuscript I’ve written the drafting process has been somewhat different, but I do try to keep a few things in mind when I’m working on a first draft.

----Stay uninhibited, i.e., don’t let my brain get in the way of my heart.

----If I have an outline I use it as a guide—not a detailed map. Give the story room to grow.

----If I know the ending I’m writing toward, and hopefully I do, I want to stay open to different ways of getting there.

-----I give myself permission to do “some” research as I see needed to get information to move the story forward. I don’t want to get bogged down, but if I need to know something that’s going to influence the direction of the story, then I usually stop and do the research instead of just making a note.

-----I reread the chapter I’ve written the previous day and make changes that jump out at me before writing the next chapter.

Like the photo of our baby tomato plants above, writing a first draft is like tending seedlings. There will be plenty of time for weeding, thinning and pruning (and hopefully harvesting) later, but right now it just needs water, sunlight, soil, and room to grow.

Part of our tomato harvest.

 What are some of the things you do when writing a first draft?

Paul Greci is the author of Surviving Bear Island, a 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection and a 2016 Scholastic Reading Club Selection. 


  1. I'm pretty much like you, Paul--but next draft I am going to try Lisa Cron's STORY GENIUS approach. I'm getting to be a codger, and time is of the essence. ;)

    1. Thanks, Michael. I like Cron's idea that the creation of a story comes from how the protagonist makes sense of what is happening. I'll be interested to hear how you like that approach. Have you read the book? Are you taking a workshop?

  2. I'll be looking up STORY GENIUS!

    I struggle with pre-planning, so I end up doing a lot of unnecessary revisions when I change course, but for some reason it works for me. Like you, though, I like to research as the need comes. :)

  3. I can't seem to nail down a consistent way of approaching my first draft. The first step to me is figuring out my character's voice (and/or the story's voice) and that usually involves a lot of playing around with scenes/dialogue.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!