Editing a First Draft – Top Tips

First drafts are fickle creatures. They are hastily thrown together (especially if you are a “gardener” writer like myself) and need work to form the story that you see in your mind’s eye. Editing your first draft can feel like climbing a mountain without a guidebook – there is simply so much to fix, and you also have to face the dreaded realisation that not all the scenes you wrote are in fact, any good (and this is okay).

There will be many stages of editing after this particular one. You don’t need to fix everything in your first edit, but you do need to go in with a game plan.

Your goal could be:

  • I want to map out character X’s plot clearly
  • I want to identify the theme of my story
  • I want to join my middle sequence to my ending better

The beauty of editing a first draft is you can start anywhere with your editing. You can edit from beginning to end, you can edit a particular character, or you can start with the scenes you think need the most work.

How do you go about tackling a first draft? What techniques or methods do you use?

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2 thoughts on “Editing a First Draft – Top Tips

  1. I used to just write everything out in a frenzy of creativity and then edit later, but now I’m an edit-as-you-go person. There was one particular book where, because I wasn’t being careful enough in the rushed first draft, I sent the story in the wrong direction. When it came to editing, I had to reverse engineer everything and backtrack to the point where I’d gone wrong. It ended up being about 75% of the book! These days, I map things out with bullet points and notes rather than writing the scenes themselves. Everyone seems to have a different method though :)


    1. It’s great to have different methods, I find for different projects you need a different approach. Certainly for things that are more plot driven, having an idea of where the story is going at the beginning helps a load!


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