Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Six More Steps to Improve Your First Draft

 A few weeks back I posted a piece called Writing in Layers: Six Steps to Improve Your First Draft.  Often, writers are filled with self doubt when they review their work in its early stages. Don't let negative mind chatter get you down! Keep working. Here are six more steps to try as you work towards creating a powerful second draft.

1. Look at you scene and ask yourself what typically happens in a scene like this? What do we expect to have happen? the opposite and keep us on our toes!

2. If you are writing a specific genre such a romance, put yourself aside and think about the reader. Who are they? What do you think they would want to see happen in this scene? Romance readers expect specific things in their novels. Once you've figured out what the reader wants for this genre, give it to them or cut the scene.

3. Do you have humor in your story? Every now and then your reader needs a high note, a moment to relax from the situation. Give them something to laugh at or relate to while you're preparing them for the next dramatic scene.

4. Let's look a those scenes again. Are they the kind of thing you'd jump on Twitter or Facebook and tell you friends to read? Do they make you excited? If not, revise or cut them.

5. What is something you might never expect from your character? Reveal that. You'd be surprised at how much depth it can add to this person. Just make sure it's relevant to your story and makes sense.

6. Give your character a catchphrase or mannerism. What is something they do at least three times in the story? Is their a specific phrase they rely on? This is a technique that can be really helpful when building a character, but be careful about over doing it. No one can flush beet red a million times in a book without coming off as silly.

Hope these tips help and allow your first draft to grow!


  1. Great advice, especially the tip about including humor in a story. I once bought a chick lit book just because the pages that I peeked at before buying it made me laugh.

  2. Thanks! I think humor is a great thing in general and I love laughing out loud at things in books. I read the first few Janet Evanovich books with the Stephanie Plum character solely because they cracked me up.