Let Me Tell You About My Ugly First Drafts
Plus, another SCANDAL Giveaway
There’s another Goodreads Giveaway! 20 more books are up for grabs. Enter before May 14th. Limited to the U.S. and Canada only.
THE ART OF SCANDAL was also chosen by shereads.com as one of the Best Beach Reads of the Summer.
How I Tackle First Drafts
I’m working on something new, so this topic has been on my mind. I love brainstorming new book ideas. I also love researching, developing characters, worldbuilding, and plotting. Without a deadline, I could happily plan a book forever. But I absolutely hate writing first drafts. I always have. I’m an anxious perfectionist, and constant editing will stall my progress if I’m not careful. People often say that perfect is the enemy of good, and that’s absolutely true. Perfect is also the enemy of finished. Here are a few strategies I use to tackle my least favorite part of the writing process:
Fall in Love With My Book Idea
I’m talking slow-burn romance. I typically start developing stories by drafting a single-line pitch summarizing the hook. That alone makes me excited to dive into the book. Next, I start developing characters, doing research, and brainstorming major plot beats. Eventually, I’ll draft a longer summary that includes major character goals, motivations, and conflict. By this time, I’m so invested in the story that I’m ready to start outlining. I’ve found that the more detailed I make my outline, the easier it is for me to start drafting.
Self Imposed Deadlines
I’m one of those people who would rather pull an all-nighter to finish a project than ask for an extension. That’s not a good thing. Sometimes extensions are healthy and necessary. But knowing this about myself allows me to use personal deadlines to push past my need for perfection and focus on getting the work done.
Bargain with My Inner Perfectionist
Do you have conversations with your bad habits? Because I do. I have to remind my inner critic to write with the door closed. First drafts are just me telling myself the story and those nitpicky edits will come later when there’s something to nitpick over. This is why my first drafts are generally:
Dialogue heavy (prose is harder when I don’t know the characters that well)
Thematically light (because I may not have a firm grasp on it yet)
Extremely long (because I cut absolutely nothing at this stage)
Bursting with supporting characters (because I haven’t figured out who to cut and who to keep yet)
Awkwardly phrased (because they’re basically brain dumps)
I have to remind myself that writing an ugly first draft is okay because it’s just the scaffolding for the story. The actual book is built through revisions.
If you’re struggling with starting a new draft or finishing an old one, I hope some of the strategies I listed above are helpful.
National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month, so I’ll end this newsletter by recommending one of my favorite poetry collections, Wild Embers by Nikita Gill. These poems are about women masking their true nature and setting aside their passion for the sake of others, which is a big theme in THE ART OF SCANDAL. Wolf and Woman and We Are 93% Stardust are two of my favorites.
Looking forward to sharing more fun and exciting news as we get closer to publication day!