Many writers mistake themselves into thinking that the purpose of the first draft is to get a beautiful, emotionally engaging and grammatically correct story onto paper…or in this day and age, on to the computer screen. Well, it’s not!
The first draft of a story is simply the birth of the writer’s vision into the real life, and that means, into a tangible form.
Beginning, Middle and End of a Story
A first draft serves many purposes but its main purpose is to get the beginning and the end of the story right. The middle part of the story should of course be present in the first draft, but it doesn’t have to be set in stone. A writer’s job is to make sure to form the skeleton of the story in that first draft. Do not worry about spelling mistakes, usage of the correct grammar or even in getting the emotions or setting of the story right. Fix or add it later in revisions.
Sequence of Events in Story Writing
It is important to establish a sequence of events in the first draft. The sequences or the scenes can later be revised, changed, added or deleted but the first draft should tell you, as the writer, how your protagonist is getting from point A (the beginning of the story) to Point B (the end of the story). This means that there would be an unfolding of certain circumstances, a physical or an emotional journey, that needs to be captured in the first draft. This would of course be subject to revisions in the later drafts.
Character Development in Story Writing
As a writer it is crucial that you understand the motivations and goals of your protagonist, as well as all the other characters, such as the sidekick or the villain. In the first draft, your aim should be explore the emotions of all your important characters because it is these emotions that will drive the story forward. If you don’t know how much your character loves his father, you will not be able to guide him on a journey to save him? Similarly, if you don’t know that you protagonist is good and loyal, how will you make him risk his life to save a friend? It is not only your protagonist who needs clear goals and motivations but also your villain (if there is one) because good does not shine until it is pitted against a blacker than black evil.
Establish a Story’s True Genre
Although you might have in mind the idea of a fantasy story, sometimes it is possible that the protagonist’s motivations or journey may cause the story’s genre to change a little. A fantasy could turn into fantasy romance, a romance could turn into paranormal romance, a sci-fi could turn into romance sci-fi or a thriller could turn into horror. If you have your characters well-fleshed out then it is possible that they end up surprising you as they come to life and change the dimensions of a story. The purpose of the first draft in such a situation is to truly discover in which directions the characters are driving the story.
After the Completion of the First Draft
Once the first draft is completed, celebrate your success for while. Take a break for a period of at least two weeks, possibly longer from the story and then read and revise it. In the second draft you can refine the settings, ensure the correct sequence of events, put in some emotions and tweak with the characters. Each revision of a draft will lead to the emergence of a better story—until you are ready to submit it to the editor.