Writing the first draft, especially of the first book, is an exciting time. You are committing your great story to paper and can’t wait for it to land in your readers’ laps. But the first draft is often full of mistakes, understandably because you are yet to see that some aspects of the plot are incredible, some characters unnecessary and the story to wordy. Although drafts can be reworked as many times as you wish, it helps to minimise mistakes in the first draft and make subsequent work easier. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for in the first draft.
The first draft will really tell you the amount of research that you left out. If you are writing action fiction and hit a brick when the helicopter needs to do a U-turn, you will realise you failed to research helicopter avionics deep enough.
Neglecting the setting
In the rush to tell your story, it is common to neglect setting the scene properly. You fail to provide sufficient details on the character’s looks, weather, landscape, building schematics and other small details which add depth to the story.
The other side of this mistake is telling too much detail. If your setting is the African savanna, you can mention the Masai people and their beautiful traditional dressing, but going into details of dressing for each gender and age group is overdoing it.
Having too many characters
This is a trap that many writers get into in the first draft. It is like there is a need for a new character in every new scene. Almost everyone the hero meets is at risk of being developed into a character in the story. While minor characters add depth to a story, too many of them can confuse the reader. There will too many character motivations competing such that the plot might become jumbled.
Not telling the emotional story
Readers want to connect to different characters, and they can only do so by getting an insight into their emotions and thoughts. These can explain the character’s motivation better than actions or interactions in the story.
Using a misleading hook
Some writers use a hook to grab attention and then tell the story that they really wanted to. A steamy love scene, for example, grabs the reader’s attention only for real story to be that the couple were working towards rescuing trafficked pets. This can be a real anticlimax for the reader.
Too many words
The first draft is the story as you think it should be, and it often proves to be too wordy. The good thing is that with good editing, the first can be drastically changed and polished for a great book. There is no need to fear mistakes in the first draft, only look out for the obvious ones that make work harder.