Writing First Drafts

This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Moses Siregar, Jordan Ellinger and Diana Rowland discuss writing first drafts.

Here is a shocking admission: after I complete an outline, I edit as I write. It works for me, helps me get in the zone to start a writing session by editing what I last wrote. The trick has been to tame that beast of an inclination and keep my forward progression.

Because this tactic is so filled with pitfalls, I find myself never suggesting it to other writers. It is far too easy to get caught up in the eternal opening; tweaking things, rewriting and working it to death to make it as shiny as possible. I’ve been caught there, I have the MSs to prove it. It does not smell like napalm in the morning. Or maybe it does, depending on what side of that napalm you’re on.

From inspiration to¬†fin, we’ve all got our own processes. Sharpies, dictation, polishing turds, muscle drafts, butcher paper, discoverers versus outliners — on the battlefield that is the first draft, where do you fall?

As promised, Diana has graciously given us a sample of one of her first drafts for all our loyal poddies. Enjoy!
Parts and pieces of early “Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues.”


Joshua Essoe is a full-time, freelance editor. He’s edited for David Farland, Dean Lorey, Mark Lefebvre, James A. Owen, and many top-notch independents and winners of Writers of the Future. Read some of his other articles for Kobo, Grammar Girl, and Fictorians.



4 thoughts on “Writing First Drafts

  1. Hi, In this podcast, Diana mentioned she would provide an example of a first draft for your poddies to look at. I’m just wondering whether this is yet to happen, or whether it is here somewhere and I can’t find it.


  2. I’m a recursive writer myself. I write for bit, when I come back to it I reread what I wrote and if I see something to fix I edit, then move on the writing the next bit. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    It gets done this way, but unless I label this version as “first draft” I’ve no discernible first draft to go back to for finding material worthy of reconsideration. By the time I’m done with a story the first draft is actually closer to 7th or 8th draft at the front end and closer to 2nd or 3rd at the end. While it is a functional process to a point, I have this niggling feeling it’s bad for record keeping, version control purposes.

    1. Don’t worry about record keeping if that process works for you. As far as first complete drafts are concerned, the first time you type “the end” marks the end of your first complete draft.

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