To be honest, I think it’s a little silly how us writers take one large project and divide it into mini sections. I can see why we do it, thought. By breaking it down, it makes the project more doable. We can communicate easier on which part of the writing process we are at.

“Oh, you’re in the proofreading stage too? Nice!”

As I was working on my book last night, and nearing the end, a thought crossed my mind:

where’s the cutoff?

At what point do I pause and say, “Okay, I’m finally in the next stage.”?

Currently I have reached nearly the end of my story, but so many plot holes and pieces are needed. Will going back and filling them be considered editing?

At what point do I finally finish the first draft?

leave your opinions below

This is a short post. In fact, this is my last post before I finally finish my first draft (I think, lol)! Because this is a special time for me, I’d like to keep my mind fresh from giving writing advice, and taking some instead.

I’d love to hear all of your opinions on when the first draft is actually finished!

Can’t wait to see your answers 😉

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Melissa Torrefranca

Hello writers of the world! I'm Melissa, the founder / designer of Teen Authors Journal. Although I create blog posts every Tuesday at 4 p.m. (Pacific Time), I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing! I'd love to learn more about all of you, so please don't hesitate to shoot me a message! 🙂

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  • The only technical first draft I ever finished was Puppet, mainly because I don’t write first drafts. Sure, I go back and edit things, and change plot points, rewrite scenes, characters, etc., but I have never written a first draft, unless you would count Puppet (beta/author edited, sometimes at that, and done purely by a team of teen writers) as a first draft. That would offend me though, seeing as it took four years to write it and I view it as finished. For a fanfic, it is finished, at least in my view anyway. But yeah, I don’t write drafts. I don’t know why, I just never did. If I had to guess, it’s probably because in writing, I’m telling myself a story. I don’t want spoilers either, and rereading the entire story, one that I know better than anyone, seems meaningless to me. If I like the story as is, someone else out there is bound to as well, and I guess that’s just how I roll. I’m curious though, what do you think of my lack of drafts?

  • To be honest, I never edit my first drafts. I always re-write them almost completely, that way I don’t leave stuff that’s just “okay”, which is too easy to do when you’re editing. When you re-write you have no chose but to make everything better.

    For this reason, it’s easier for me to tell where the cut off is.

    I usually count a ‘draft’ as when I re-write a lot or make a major plot change. The thing is, I save all my previous drafts, so I want different versions for when things change too much.

    If you’re looking for tips on writing your second draft, then I’d say take a good long break from your book. Maybe about a month long. Then sit down with a parent or close friend (preferably one who is an avid reader or writer) and talk through the plot, characters, and all the other big stuff. Make a list of changes. And be open to your story changing A LOT. When I first got ready to start writing my second draft I highly miscalculated how much would change.

    Anyway. Congratulations on finishing your first draft! Personally I think that is the most rewarding part of the writing process. 😉

  • okay, so seriously talking, I never had sections at all before. In fact, this year is the first that I have EVER had a plot plan. I would always just write my story and forget about it. Now, I keep hearing people saying ‘my plot and characters are finally done! I can start writing’ or something along those lines. Then many many many people ask me how I can world build so well. World building has been something that almost everyone that reads my work has complimented me on (that and emotion, even though I can’t write emotion to save my life) and what I always answer is that it comes naturally. I always start with a vague idea. With my Ability Trials it was ‘I want a really stereo typical superhero book’. That was it. And from there I built Uictoria, the Crown Table, and even MC Rory herself. And when did I create this? Three pages in I decided the next big thing in my book ‘hm, what if supervillains aren’t what they seem?’ I edited the scene a bit and suddenly in was a snarky fake kidnapping by a defaulty villain who didn’t understand who villains really were. Soon, I was about ten pages in when I got a few more ideas. No matter what, I kept writing. After a while, I had a basic plot. I was writing on that, but then I realised there were no twists. What did I do? I kept writing. As I wrote I discovered each character a bit more, and with that I took each character and gave them a crucial role. Soon I had three pages of plot, only 15 pages of story, and so much excitment and confusion it was unbelievable. So, I made that handy plot schedule (at the same time working out major holes) and have been slowly working on writing by the schedule ever since. After the last word has been written, then and only then will I consider it a ‘slopy copy’ the ultimate first (I’ve really started going by the stages of my WONDERFUL writing ‘class’, a book called Workshop. Then I reread and simutaniously will edit major grammar and plot holes. After I’ve read and edited the last word, that is the ‘first draft’ and I will have finished the editing stage. Then I get someone to read it for me (my mom or someone I trust) and they edit it and tell me what they are confused by. I edit it to their liking and then I will have finished the ‘Second Draft’. Then it can be sent to a professional editor if I have the money, or I’ll try to edit it myself, and after that is done, I will have finished my ‘Last Draft’ and it’s finally an actual book 🙂 Sorry for the long comment, but I just wanted to get in all my writing process 😀

    • Thanks for sharing your process! I think that not having a plot can in some cases be very beneficial (in your case, more creativity and flexibility). I actually do something similar, since I plot during the writing process. It really turns out great!

      Awesome how you don’t think of it as parts. In the end, writing a book is simply writing a book.

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