Monday, May 20, 2013

Why First Drafts Suck

You've all heard this. And they do. I mean, I know mine do, and I'm glad to know everyone else's do too.

Why do first drafts suck? Because we only have a shadowed glimpse of the picture. It takes time to build a full world, to clear that picture, to learn about our characters. Each writer is inspired during one moment in time for a particular story, whether by a dream, a movie, a conversation, or your own musings, in that moment we hear a voice in our heads and decide to write about it. But we don't know where that voice will lead us. Even if you're not a pantser like me, having an outline doesn't give you ever single detail of your story. And oftentimes events change, characters are deleted, we are forced to kill our darlings. Hence the reason first drafts are so awful. A lot times I'll leave notes in the margins that say "use a thesaursus!" or "put in something dramatic"  or perhaps "kissing can now commence" because I want to set up the bones of my story, the bones being the inspiring event that caused the voice to start talking in my head. From there on out I don't really have a clue as to what is going to happen, only that it's going to make or break my characters.

What about you guys, do your first drafts suck? If they don't, well, don't bother commenting, I don't want to hear about it. Just kidding...sort of.


  1. Ha, well, I don't think they "suck," but they definitely need a lot of refining! I think authors are too hard on themselves on that score :)

    1. True, I guess to me, they kind of suck. And we are a lot harder on ourselves than others, so there's that.

  2. Yes. Sometimes my fifth drafts even suck. So no worries. ;)

    (To explain that a little, I find that even after the initial draft, sometimes things have to get worse to get better.)

  3. My first drafts are cringe-worthy! I'm trying to write a new project right now and it's so difficult because I'm like, "Ugh! I just want to start revising already!" Haha. I seem to have forgotten how arduous first-drafting can be!

    Best of luck on your new WIP! :)

  4. My first drafts can be pretty rough. My latest WIP sounds very wooden. The protagonist's voice isn't shining through yet. Hopefully she will the second time round!

  5. I think they suck in different reasons for different writers :)

    I do think us pantsers have it a little tougher than plotters though ;)

  6. I know exactly what you mean! I do end of up with a lot of good stuff from my first draft, but I have to completely rework it, if that makes sense. Like, it doesn't end up where I originally wrote it at all :)

  7. I'm with you. First drafts are rough. I'm working on one right now, too, and I just discarded another.