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  • Sarah Everly

The First Draft: Dos and Don’ts

  • Do make mistakes:


While you’re writing your first draft, it’s okay to make mistakes in grammar or punctuation. And don’t spend a lot of time fixing them. Try to wait until the second draft! But this doesn't mean you shouldn't still try your best with punctuation, and this brings me to the next tip.


  • Do read your grammar and punctuation rules BEFORE attempting draft 1.

Especially your commas and your dialogue tags. This will save you and your editor a lot of time (and potentially money). Do not try to "feel" out the commas. While in many situations, you will be right, it is best to look up the correct comma placement. Other interesting rules is knowing how to spell words correctly. For example, when talking about a boy character, you would use the word blond not blonde. And a common mistake is that the word all right is spelled alright. The true spelling of the word is all right, so make sure you look these things up and know them. It will make your writing more professional.

  • Don’t give up.

Just because you’re unsure of where the story is supposed to go next, I’d recommend you to just keep writing. Just write whatever you think next even if you don’t think it seems right. You might find these parts to be your best. Or it could help you in drafting the next scene.

  • Do have a daily word minimum.

This is so important. I’d recommend 500-1,000 words a day at a minimum. Otherwise, you’ll never finish. It’ll just keep getting put off. Just keep writing each day and eventually you will have the first draft.


Another idea that works for people is to have a timer each day, and maybe this works better for you. Maybe you can dedicate about half an hour a day to writing. But I would recommend whichever method you choose, try to stick to it.

  • Do try to be somewhat eloquent (if that’s your style).

Take the time to write your story. It can be tempting to just fill in the scenes with a lot of dialogue. It's okay to slow down a little, so that your reader can really experience what is happening there. I'd also recommend not rushing the first draft. Take time in your first draft to write well. It will save you a lot of time later.

  • Do take the time to develop scenery and descriptions.

I found it easy to get caught up in the dialogue, but the details of a story can make a story a more enjoyable experience.

  • Do be kind to yourself.

Writing the first draft is a lot of work. So if you find yourself struggling to meet your own deadlines, maybe that’s a sign you should a small break and refresh. And that's okay! Do what works best for you and your schedule.


Thanks for reading!

-Sarah

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