Cole's First Draft Rules

Here are COLE'S MOST IMPORTANT RULES for writing a first draft, especially if you're a pantser*

1) GET. IT. DOWN. Nobody ever has to read that very first draft. It's yours, and yours alone.


It's probably awful and embarrassing**, but it's not meant to be great literature. It's all about freeing the words from your skull and splurging them on the page. Sort that mess out later!

2) DO. NOT. EDIT. Some sections may not work and will need changing (I'll get to that in a minute), but don't sit there tweaking the first draft before you finish it. SORT IT OUT LATER! GET IT DOWN! RAAAAAAAAH!

3) Listen to your instincts. Pantsing means you'll probably take missteps here and there in the rush of getting the story down as it comes to you (or as you unearth it from your brain). If you've written something and it's really not working, here's your permission to go back, cut it/change it/edit it so you can get on with moving in the only direction any first draft should go: ONWARDS TO VICTORY!!!

4) Don't worry if you've started a subplot and it doesn't work. Take it out when you're editing.

5) Too many characters? No worries! Get rid of them! Kill your darlings or edit them out later.

6) Keep a notebook with notes on what might need changing in the editing phase, what scenes and background detail needs developing, and what the rules of your fictional world are. If there's one thing I've learned over the course of my pantsing drafts, it's much easier to edit them if you keep detailed notes during the first draft stage.

Yes, my first drafts tend to be disasters, but at least I get the story out of my head and onto a computer where I can do so much more with it :D

What are your first draft rules? 

*Okay, fine, especially if you're me
** You're your own worst critic, you know that, right? 

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