A rough draft, also known as a first draft, is your first attempt at writing your story, and that means different things to different people. 

For me, it’s the first time you put all of your ideas on plot and characters for your story down in the format you intended for your story.

I once read somewhere that a rough draft is “a late stage in the writing process”. I think that’s because it assumes that you have done all of the work of learning a language and developing a style and figuring out the structure, character development, and the plot as well as digging into the mountain of necessary research and that are you are now, finally, ready to put all of that knowledge you’ve been accumulating since kindergarten into the story format of your choice.

That idea takes a lot of the pressure off for me because I know that most of the preliminary work is already behind me and my focus (the rough draft) is part one of the two writing processes wherein I get to play.

Because you write the story, yes, but you write it knowing that this is not what you’re going to send to the publisher.

The key is to give yourself permission to not make sense, to drop or pick up weird plot lines at random, to introduce characters badly and write dialogue that doesn’t even sound like dialogue (something I have a major problem with). I can play in my rough draft because I never, ever have to show it to anyone.

This is the secret: Your rough draft doesn’t have to be made of diamonds.

In fact, it will be full of inconsistencies and grammatical errors and times where you said the hero’s name was Dan when really his name was Steve.

People often to think that authors’ rough drafts are this majestic beacon of light, and it’s easy to see the published work and forget all the mistakes and the stupid ideas and the crimes against English grammar that helped build it. I’m begging you to remember the rough draft doesn’t have be perfect. 

But what is a rough draft? It’s a possibility. It’s a promise to yourself. It’s a landmark.

I don’t know. You’re making me all nostalgic. Go write or something, would you?


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  16. kenjikhozoei reblogged this from writeworld and added:
    Sorry but, “beckon of light.” Otherwise, good advice as always (: