Friday, 17 August 2012

What Your First Draft Needs

There is a danger with beginner writers who may feel that their first draft has to be perfect.

I know because it's how I used to think.

However, a first draft is not meant to be brilliant. There's no way to get a first draft right other than to get it wrong. Or some of it, at least.

It's why it's called an exploratory draft.

It's where you follow your curiosity and explore ways of doing things to see how it plays out. It needs time to be left alone. It's meant to be torn apart later on. The majority of it doesn't have to make the second draft.

This stage is less about quality and more on getting something down. It doesn't have to be great but it has to be something.

You need to go through what doesn't work in order to find what does.

The first draft is an essential part of that discovery.

Rewrite Later 

You only get one chance to make a good first impression but you get many to write a great screenplay. Writing is rewriting and the only healthy way to approach a first draft.

I have had a first draft dip into the two hundred page mark to then write the second draft from scratch. Those two hundred pages of exploration told me what I didn't want and directed me to what I did want.

Every project is different and will teach you new things but obsessing and perfecting at the first draft stage will only drive you mad and start to see writing as a chore.

Your first draft is meant to be off the mark that's why no one else sees it. It's meant for your eyes only, as a place to begin, and to reshape as you see fit.

Don't sweat it. By all means put effort into it, however, avoid rewriting as you go along. Give yourself a break and just head towards that finish line.

Rewriting is for later. Best to worry about it when it matters.

Good luck!

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