Writing First Drafts

I love writing first drafts. I’m on top of the wave of a new idea surfing along on the new characters and plot. The brain hums. The fingers fly across the keys.

Some writers find writing first drafts a scary time. They are terrified of making mistakes, leaving plot holes, ending up in a dead end or the whole story disintegrating.

Not me. I find this a liberating time. If there are mistakes, if the plot fizzles or gets unworkable, I keep going on a new tack. The problems can be edited out later.

Even with careful planning, characters are not real yet. They become real for me while writing first drafts.

cover for Edwina by Karen GoatKeeper

In “Edwina” the main character Aleta has had her perfect world blown up in her face by divorce. She hasn’t even adjusted to that when a stepsister moves into her room ransacking her things.

This much I knew. Aleta would be angry. How angry? What would she do? How would she feel beyond the anger? Anger focused at whom?

What about the stepsister? She was used to being first in her mother’s life. Now her position is threatened. What does she feel? How does she deal with it?

All of these questions were dealt with in that first draft as I wrote it sweeping up to the shore of The End.

cover for For Love of Goats by Karen GoatKeeper

In “For Love of Goats” there is a series of short skits about Star, the little goat. I’ve raised goats for over forty years. I’ve watched hundreds of kids grow up. Now I was attempting to be one of those kids.

What would a little goat kid feel like being born? How would she react to her new world? How would she react to a sibling as kids are normally born as twins?

I started with a list of situations. But writing first drafts of the stories let me play with the reactions, delve into the emotions, see the world new as a new kid would see it.

Perhaps writing first drafts can be scary looking at that blank page or screen. For me that is the opportunity to let the imagination loose, to fly through the story exploring the possibilities and seeing the characters come to life.