Sunday, March 27, 2016

Writing a Sharp 1st Draft

by: Stephanie Burkhart

Getting ready to write your novel or short story? I’m sharing some tips on how to write a “sharp” first draft. Mind you, your manuscript will need an edit, but if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll save yourself a serious content edit once you’re ready to tackle the editing process.

#1 – Research! You maybe very familiar with your topic, but you can never research enough. From the setting, to the characters, to the season, the more you know, the more you can write with authenticity. For example, say your character rides a train/subway to work every day. Ride a train for the experience. If your story is set in a foreign country you’ve never been to and you have no opportunity to go there, use the internet, your library, and magazines to explore.

#2 – Establish a hook. Do this on the first page. Usually action serves as a good hook. You could also use dialogue to draw your readers in. Example: Sophia Windsor landed flat on her rump.

#3 – No info dumps in the first 5 pages! We know our main character has a back story, but piece it out slowly. This helps to build anticipation and keeps the reader turning the pages.

#4 – Show, don’t tell. Look for “was” verbs. That’s usually an indication of telling.  Example 1A: Sophia was pale. Example #1B: The color drained from Sophia’s face.

#5 – Use a 1st or 3rd person narration. 1st person is the narrator telling the story using “I.” A great 1st person narration is the Stephanie Plum cozy mysteries by Janet Evanovich. 3rd person involves “he” or “she.” In 3rd person, it is important to keep the scene in one perspective. You can switch perspectives with a minimum of a line break. In “The DaVinci Code,” the author switches perspective with each new chapter.

#6 – Watch out for repeated words. Scan the page and see if you’ve used the same word often. Take a thesaurus and look up the word to see what other choices it gives you.

Question: I’d love to hear from you! What tips do you have for writing a “sharp” first draft?

Happy Easter to my 4RV family and 4RV readers! I hope you enjoy the day with your family.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She first started writing when she was a little girl, making comics at the kitchen table. She enjoys coffee, adores chocolate, and likes taking long walks. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, First Flag of New Hampshire, Brady’s Lost Blanket, and Joseph’s Cradle.

The Giving Meadow: Caterpillar makes his way through a meadow learning about caring and sharing. A great story to help children understand the mystery of Easter. 

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