Why We Write Shitty First Drafts

Dear Reader,

If your English teacher was worth anything in high school, then they should have told you that you must write a “shitty first draft.” I’ve talked about shitty first drafts before, but a friend complained to me recently that they didn’t like that advice.

Why? Because their college professor ripped apart their first draft, saying it wasn’t good enough. It traumatized my friend.

I stared at him a moment, not sure he was serious. Of course, he was. I said, “But darling, you never show your actual first draft to anyone. There’s a writer’s first draft, and then there’s what I like to call a Reader-Worthy-First-Draft.”

The writer’s shitty first draft is, more often than not, a really shitty draft. It is the definition of shitty. The characters are cardboard, the plot is dramatic and full of holes, the grammar is awful. That is the point. That draft is for the writer to get ideas to the page with as little judgment as possible. A Reader-Worthy-First-Draft is when you’ve gone back through so that the draft makes sense.

I am at that point for the first eleven chapters for The Rebel’s Hero. I had to go back through it twice. I wanted to share the result, in all its gory beauty.

I use a Red Pen of Doom because it means serious business. Now you know I’m alive and working on making my shitty drafts Reader Worthy. Look forward to my next blog post where I’ll detail some of the things I look for when the Red Pen of Doom makes an appearance.



5 thoughts on “Why We Write Shitty First Drafts

  1. I love how you used the word ‘darling’ in there. It gave my mental image an absolutely hysterical edge for some reason.

    Good luck with your project!


  2. Red Pen of Doom, love it! (I've named mine Self-Esteem Crusher, but yours is much cuter.) Seeing what your draft pages look like, I don't feel nearly as bad about mine. 0.o


    1. Yeah I wanted to recognize the editing process for what it is… sometimes Doom & Gloom, but always productive. Self-Esteem Crusher puts such a negative spin on it, I don't think I'd ever get any editing done! I thought I'd share my edits so people can see how much work goes into taking OUT what was written to make it tighter, and what goes IN to make it more engrossing.


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