O'Reilly logo

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter Thirty-One

Rough It Up

Get Messy with Your First Draft to Get to the Good Stuff

Elizabeth Sims

As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” For years, I didn’t understand. When I started writing fiction seriously, I kept trying to get it right the first time.

Every night after clocking out from my job in a bookstore, I’d sit at my favorite coffee shop with a yellow pad and the pens I collected from publishers’ reps and carefully work on my first novel. I’d write my minimum 300-word requirement, staying inside the lines and squeezing out every word with great thought and deliberation. Grant me, at least, that I was disciplined: I counted my words, and if I got to 299, I wouldn’t go back and add “very” to a ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required