I’d love to title this article How to Fast Draft, but when it comes to getting the bones of your story written down as fast as possible, I don’t believe there is one correct way to do it.
I know that technically I’m wrong. If fast drafting is defined as any book written in one month or less, and you manage to write that book in one month or less while plotting, outlining, doing back-bends, and researching, then you’re fast drafting.
That’s just not the way that works for me.
When I first started looking into fast drafting
My first novel took me five years to write. My book was precious, and I was afraid to make the wrong changes. But the major problem was that I kept trying to conform to the way I thought a writer should write a book. There’s tons of helpful information on what the first, second, fifth step, etc. should be.
So, I plotted. There were several (multicolored) outlines. I did more research than I needed to do. I revised and edited chapters again and again before writing the next ones. I spent years rewriting, revising, and editing.
I love that book. I want to take that book to Vegas and marry it. But unlike a solid, young adult relationship, did it have to take five years before I was ready to put a ring on it?
If I had taken 3-4 of those years, and written a couple more books would I be better at writing? Or did working on the same story’s flaw help me recognize my weaknesses?
I’m not saying I’m a bad writer. But I do believe that practice makes perfect, and I know now that rarely is an author’s debut book also the first book they’ve ever written.
So what works for me?
In short? Having a premise.
What is a premise?
A premise is the foundation of your novel. This is where you define what the story is about, and set the stakes.
After reading that, some of you may be thinking this advice is no different than asking you to plot or outline.
Maybe for some of you it’s not. But I’m not trying to define the correct way to fast draft; I’m just letting you know my way.
I don’t outline chapters or write out every detail of my plot because I feel restricted by the rules I’ve set for myself. So when I first decided to fast draft, and I looked into all the ways other people were doing it, I knew right off the bat that those ways just weren’t going to work for me.
Instead, I mull over the premise of my story
- What is my story about?
I’m a young adult writer. Romance, so far, has always been a part of my storylines. But writing about romance alone doesn’t do it for me. I want to write about survival, and finding inner beauty, and bravery. Once I figure out what I want to say, the words start flowing.
- What are the stakes?
What is going to prevent my MC from succeeding? Will it prevent my main characters from being together?
- What kind of person is my MC?
This will change the way I write, define the decisions my character makes, and provide motivation.
By understanding the premise of my story before fast drafting, I am able to ensure I meet my 2k-5k daily writing goals without restricting myself.
My method doesn’t require me to write down pages and pages of information. In fact, most of the time I don’t write any of it down. That’s how simple writing from a premise can be.
I only have one exception in regards to researching before you write. Since I write paranormal and fantasy manuscripts, it does help me to research magical creatures or elements that play a large part in my books. That is the only research I do, and the only research (in the first draft) that I feel actually helps shape the story.
Any more research than that, and I start to become too overwhelmed to get anything down on the page.
Like I said above, I don’t believe there’s just one correct way to fast draft. This is just the way that works for me. Hopefully, this method will help ease your mind so you can fast draft your way through that exhausting first draft!