So you have decided to write a novel. You have already developed a rough plot and built credible characters and now before you is a blank white page on the computer screen. Writing your first draft can seem a daunting prospect. So how do you get started?
The answer is to just begin writing. Let your ideas and thoughts flow freely. Even if you know the passage seems rough or feels clichéd, just write. You will go back later to tighten up your story. The key here is to get the story written down.
As you write, don’t stop to edit as you go. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect. If you wrestle with perfectionism, you will never finish your first draft. Turn off your inner critic and just focus on writing. You can always add or delete things later.
If you are working from an outline, realize that as you write your story, it might develop in a different direction. Characters may do and say things that you did not plan. Be prepared to take these interesting detours. Just go with it.
Try to keep your writing plain and simple. Don’t worry about detailed description or flowery phrases. It is much easier to go back and add to the story then to cut it down. Use simple words. Don’t use uncommon or “big” words just to show that you know them. Write so your readers understand.
And you don’t have to write your book in chronological order. If a scene sparks your fancy, go ahead and write the bar scene before they have even arrived in the city. You can always connect the scenes later. While writing my trilogy since I flip back between several character points of view, I would sometimes get caught up writing from one of their point of views. I would just go with it. Write when you are in the mood and write what you’re in the mood to write.
Accept before you begin that you may throw out a lot of what you write. I have noticed in my first drafts I end up being awful wordy. But on the next draft, I tighten up the sentences. The only time that I have had to throw out or majorly change something was on my first novel, Summoned, where I struggled on what should be the opening scene of the story. (Hmm, that might be another blog topic.)
Anyway, the best advice for writing your first draft is just to go ahead and write. Get that story out of your mind and on paper (or into a computer file).