First Draft: Definition

Rough draft. First draft. Zero draft.

There are a lot of different names for the same thing: the first draft of a story. Regardless of how long the story itself actually is, there’s always a first draft and it’s never perfect. Essentially, the first draft is only for your eyes, which is why it can be so discouraging at times.

Many, many people make the mistake of comparing their early drafts to published work. This is a bad idea, largely because you don’t know and haven’t seen the work that’s gone into the drafts before it. No one writes a perfect first draft, and what we often see in published works is the result of a lot of hard work. The two are completely different.

Getting from the mess of the first draft and into a polished manuscript is a huge amount of work. Getting that draft finished is the biggest step you’ll take in writing any story.

How you choose to write the first draft is entirely up to you, however. There are many different ways and styles of writing. At the most basic, writers fall into a spectrum between those who plan and plot (plotters) and those who dive in and let the story lead them (pantsers). There’s nothing wrong with either approach, and a lot of people find that they like a mix of both planning and discovery (planters). Everyone has a different style.

And with every different style, there are just as many different ways to write the first draft.


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