Draft after draft – #amwriting #firstdraft

I recently read Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life and thoroughly enjoyed it. The life of Ursula is repeated throughout the novel and each time it replays, her various choices and outcomes lead her down different paths.  It’s like a butterfly effect, the recuperations of one seemingly inconsequential life rippling into countless others. Ursula has the sense of deja vu, but no conscious ability to remember a past life, rather she does something different in a specific moment and it alters the whole path of her future life.

Reading this novel reminds me of the feat of writing one. If I’d titled a novel Draft after Draft it would go something like this:


Write opening chapter. Appalling. No grab. Characters asking me who they are all the time. Ditch it.

Write opening chapter again. No better. Writing style undeveloped. Words fail to materialise. Blindly rely on thesaurus. Falter. Ditch it.

Write opening chapter, then next one.  A bolshie character is shouting at me. Telling me what to do. Yeah, it’s working….. perhaps not… the rest of the ensemble of wandering around waiting to be written. Poking holes here and there. Characters disintegrate.  ditch it.

I make it to chapter three, it’s getting a head of steam. Chapter four. Chapter five. Major plot failure. Why didn’t I see that coming?  Ditch it.

Jump to middle of book. Lose the thread of who is who. Keep checking scrawled notes. Read countless blogs about how to write a novel. Realise doing it ALL WRONG.  Head explodes. Ditch it.

Try something different to break writer’s block. Write the last chapter. Except, miserable characters beg to be killed off – they’re shells with no personality, no back story. Ditch it.

Start first chapter again. Totally different plot.  Pantser it. Roll with it. Story arc is swerving all over the place. Flounder. Grind to a halt. Not my style – making it up as I go along. Leave that to Indiana Jones. Need an outline. Buy novel writing software. Spend ages watching tutorials, tweaking fonts, fussing about layout… nothing written for days and days.

Try writing the end again. Working backwards, concentrate on plot. Theme crumbles. Losing the will to write. Emotionally drained. Ditch it.

Take a long break. Read a ton of books. Write short stories. Tell everyone the book is going well. Lie.

Deep breath. Open blank file.

Revisit beginning. Introduce new characters, new plot threads. Keeping the faith, building confidence, finally flowing, can’t write fast enough, on a high. Life is good.

Draft finished.

End result – big fat book.

Sequel entitled – Edit after Edit.



One comment

  1. I’ve found that the more novels I complete, the less drafts are needed. However, with that said, I think my first novel had 35, maybe 40 drafts. Lol. It could have even been more, I’m not quite sure, you know how sometimes we can block out painful experiences? Lol. Great post!


Comments are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles

Bridging our past with the future by preserving our heritage in the present.


random, eclectic, see how my mind works

The Old Shelter

Dieselpunk author - Historical Fantasy Set in the 1920s


Kiddie Talkies - Have a look at this World through a kid's eyes with the help of his Mom's expressions

Rebekah Loper, Author

Character-driven epic fantasy. Resilient women. A touch of romance.

Wolf of Words

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

Iain Kelly

Fiction Writing


it wouldn't be thewirralgirl without you.

Rachel Walkley

Telling Tales, Revealing Secrets

Author Erika Jayne

Where stories come to life

Living the Dream

Susanne Matthews

Stories I Found in the Closet

The musings of writer, mother, musician and whatever else takes my fancy

Planet Pailly

Where Science Meets Fiction

True North Bricks

Canadian LEGO® Fan Media

Tossing It Out

The musings of writer, mother, musician and whatever else takes my fancy

Sorchia's Universe

Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

%d bloggers like this: