Survive the First Draft

Written By: Janna - Mar• 09•14

My most remarkable editor and co-founder of Patchwork Press has stepped up to post this week about her experience with the publishing process (which is considerably more than mine). 

My least favorite part of the publishing process is writing the first draft. After the initial spark of an idea, my mind is clouded with potential scenes and the loud, demanding voices of way too many fictional characters than any sane person should have living in their head. My fingers twitch with the potential of this new, shiny idea and I can’t wait to write it!

… Until I go to actually write it. First drafts are hard. They’re always hard, because as you start writing, suddenly your idea seems less shiny. Sometimes it’s not translating into words in the right way. The flow is off, the characters on the page sound different than the ones in your head (as the ones in your head will rudely point out), and you’re still a dozen chapters off from writing that big scene that first ignited the idea.

Every author has a first draft slump. It could occur right before sitting down and trying to write that first chapter, or it could be late-onset discouragement when sprinting down the final stretch of your Work In Progress. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: Revisions!

Don’t roll your eyes; the revision process of a manuscript is my favorite part! It’s where you get to take those chapters you cringed at while writing and turn them into something amazing. It’s the time where you have an ending that you can start sprinkling hints/foreshadowing through the first part of the novel. And—my favorite part of revisions—you get to tighten the pacing and refine the tone.

Regardless of whether you are a hardcore plotter or a pants-er, the idea of your book will change as you write it. It is a living thing, and characters can be quite unruly. What you pictured before you started writing will look drastically different from your first draft. And that’s okay! In fact, it’s usually great!

Tone begins to emerge as you write. After your first draft, you probably can find some connecting theme throughout your manuscript. It’s in the revision process that you get to polish that up and make it really shine!

There are also terrible parts of the revision process. “Terrible,” may be harsh, but no one really likes cutting scenes or eliminating unnecessary characters. That hurts, and it’s hard to hear a beta reader or editor get back to you saying “this just isn’t working.” But you need to hear it, and you need to listen to it!

Revisions are painful, but they can be so much fun. The hardest part of writing that novel is behind you—your first draft is done, and now you have something to work with!

Survive the first draft, and live in the revisions. Your readers will be thankful!

Erica Crouch

 Erica Crouch is a young adult author from the colorful city of Baltimore, Maryland. Currently, she is studying English and Creative Writing with a specialization in Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University. She is the cofounder and head of editorial services and design at Patchwork Press.

Erica’s debut novel, Ignite, was published June 2013. The e-novella sequel, Entice, was released Nov. 2013. The final book in the series, Incite, is expected spring 2014. A compilation of the series will be released summer 2014.

Along with the series Ignite, she is working on a new adult series, titled the Undying series, with the first installment, Cut, due 2014. When Erica isn’t writing, she’s reading an overwhelming stack of books, watching an obscene amount of Netflix, and procrastinating.




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