For today, I’m going to talk about turning a rough draft into a first draft. As I write my rough drafts, I use comments to keep track of things not working, or I need to change, or research, or think through. Then, as soon as I am done with my rough draft, I pull out my notebook and write down any random thoughts in my head. My rough drafts are out of order and inconsistent and a mess.

I do NOT work on character development, chapter endings and beginnings, point of view, etc during this first edit. What I am aiming for is a usable draft, one that makes a least a little sense and has at least a little order to it. Focusing on the big picture.


To turn my rough draft into a first draft, I simply go through the comments I made while writing the first draft and do whatever I needed to do. Sounds simple, right? NOT!

I mean, some of it is. For example:

  • Mention the year
  • Have the top down in the convertible
  • Fix spelling and grammar errors

Some are easy, but a little more time consuming:

  • Delete this character. Unnecessary
  • Rewrite this scene so she isn’t so shy
  • Research house fires and smoke inhalation

And some are scary to think about:

  • Change the timing of the first half of the book from taking place over a week to three weeks
  • Think through an explanation that drives the climax; doesn’t make sense
  • Fill in all the obvious plot holes

So, not exactly a small step, but it is a starting point. Look at your draft and start with the obvious problems, the ones you identified as you wrote it. You did note those down, right? Don’t assume you will remember! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that…and then forgotten I was even supposed to remember something! Make a list if you have to and mark things off as you complete them. I delete the comments as I fix the problems.

So how are all of you doing? We are a third of the way through December (ahhhhh!!), the new year is approaching. Now is the time to buckle down so we can all start 2017 with a decent first draft. Wouldn’t that be awesome, to have a good first draft that didn’t even exist before November??

Happy revising!