Next up for our writing advice is 1st drafts. How do you approach it? Plotter or pantser? Do you brainstorm ideas first, or just plunge in with any old whim that takes you? Edit as you go or get it all done in one shot without looking back? That kind of thing…
Give us an insight into how you do it in the comments below.


While you mull it over, here’s some great resources/advice out on the web about it…

And now for the Scribblers advice…

The Scribblers

I used to be an out & out pantser. Although stories would alway come to me in a fairly well-formed state, so I’d just write a few notes & then get down to writing it. I always thought that was enough. But it’d take me ages to write the darned thing. And the plot always ended up being a bit ‘meh’.

Then I met the Writers HQ ladies last September, & they truly converted me. After completing their 6-week Plotstormers I course, I wrote my first draft in 3 months. I’ve never done that before. Not even close. And the structure was definitely much more solid & well-formed. It was still a first draft, but it was a decent foundation to build on.

So now I’m a fully-converted Evangelical Plotter. And I’m never going to look back.

I can’t plan to the nth degree. It’s not in my nature and so when I try it just feels forced and wrong and I lose interest in my story – a bit like in GCSE English, where you start of loving To Kill a Mockingbird and by the end you don’t care if you never read about Boo Radley and that bloody tree again – you’ve analysed the joy out of it. Equally I’ve leaned if you have no plan, you write 80.000 words of drivel that goes nowhere. So I’m a bit of both now. I have a rough arc of what is going to happen when, but otherwise I just go for it. It cheesy but the characters do want they want anyway. You can’t control them anymore than you can control your children – you can just set boundaries and guide them …by the end it’s all the more magical because it’s been a road trip rather than a car journey …

I need to know everything that happens before I even start. The first chapter comes easy, and then I’ll have one particular scene I need to get to and no idea how to bridge the gap between the two. Once I have a good idea of a start, middle, and end, I break down each chapter and then continue writing. More ideas usually come as I plan and/or write it out. I’m the kind of person who watches movies again and again or re-reads books I love a million times because I like knowing how everything turns out. Plotting is very important to me, otherwise I get lost inside my own head.

I get pretty excited when I start a new book. I have all sorts of plots about plotting but usually I make a vague draft which consists of a chapter outline on the back of a beermat, (which I inevitably lose!) then I dive on in. Worst idea ever!
My current novel has had three major structural overhauls, which possibly, could have been avoided. I’ve made countless mistakes that were pretty rookie. If only I’d reigned in, Little Miss Speedy Pantsta. I’ve studied load of methods for plot writing. I’m green with envy at the excel spread sheets, the note takers who write bibles, the post-it-note, white board types, recce researchers, map makers and three-act talented screenwriter types. But for me stories unfurl. My characters creep up on me surprising me with things that they do, and so, with each bad draft, I add another layer to the story arc that, hopefully, is one step closer to a happy ending. Bravo to you disciplined plotters. I plot that one day, knowing exactly what will happen will be mine. Mwa-ha-ha!

Plough through…just write and write and write and don’t stop. Get it done, get it down. It will be shit, it will be cringey to read back but don’t worry about that. Tell the story, then go back and fix it to make it a novel. Just keep swimming as Nemo would say…