Hello friends and welcome!
Today I wanted to dive into the drafting aspect of writing novels. If you are a part of the writing community, you may have noticed that there has been some recent backlash about the concept of fast drafting. I was a little taken aback when the conversation first started as I believe that every writer’s process is unique and no single process is “superior.” I think for the most part we all agree with that. I think the backlash comes from the idea that there are writers who throw words at a page and don’t spend a significant amount of time editing before shopping the manuscript around. There was an article by a literary agent that had seen a number of these in her slush pile.
Fast drafting is exactly what it sounds like. It is the process of writing your first draft as quickly as possible. For most writers who fast draft there is no hesitation, no self-editing as you go, and no excuses. The idea is to get the words on the page and then edit and revise to improve.
When I write, I fast draft. For Autumn Sunrise I was able to crank out 100,000 words in 27 days. I spend a significant amount of time in preparation for that initial draft. I have a very detailed spreadsheet with characters, locations, the A/B/C plots and how they all fit together, etc. By the time I sit down to draft, I essentially already have a “Zero Draft” that I’m working from. I’m able to draft quickly because I already have an extensive knowledge of my setting, characters, and plot. My feeling has always been that it’s best to get the words on the page so that I have something to mold to improve. The magic for me happens in the revision stage.
Some Pros of Fast Drafting
- You have a completed draft in your hands within a short amount of time
- You don’t waste time editing scenes that you’ll end up cutting after the first draft
- You won’t get caught up in the loop of self-editing continuously and possibly not moving forward
- It’s often easier to maintain writing momentum
Fast drafting is not the best technique for every writer. It works well for writers who have a detailed understanding of their story before beginning and find themselves able to crank out 1,000+ words per hour. Writers I’ve spoken with who do not fast draft tend to edit as they go, so that when they complete a draft it tends to need less revision and editing than the first draft of a fast drafter. That’s pretty cool as well!
For someone who is less of a planner, fast drafting may not work well–but it still can! In fact, since in the middle of drafting I ended up completely changing the ending of Autumn Sunrise, the last third or so of the novel was essentially written by the seat of my pants. And I still got it written in a very short amount of time!
That’s the beauty of writing; we all have our own individual processes. I don’t think any of us have the same exact process as another writer.