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The Walk Through

Last week I talked briefly about my favorite part of the writing process…the 1st draft…and today I’d like to take it a step further. You see a 1st draft means different things to different writers. There are those who prefer to edit as they go. Part of their process includes reviewing the previous scene or chapters and revising/editing it before continuing into new territory. Others prefer the blow and go technique, remaining oblivious to things such as grammar, sentence structure, and other such things. Those writers strive to just get the basic plot down and save the heavy lifting for the revision/edit stage. There all sorts of ways to tackle a first draft…and like anything with writing…there is no right or wrong way.

I find that a great way to explain how I approach a 1st draft is to compare it to the production of a Broadway play. You start with an awesome script, which for me is equivalent to an outline, then once all the parts have been cast you move right into the Walk Through. During a Walk Through all the actors read through their lines and mimic the actions they would be performing during the live play.  There are no costumes, no sets, no special effects, just the actors and them learning how the dialogue will flow and the beats necessary to making it work. The Walk Through is my first draft. The dress rehearsal, where it is basically the live play but without an audience, is where last minute tweaks are made. That is my edit/revise stage. Opening night is when the book goes on sale…and I’m still waiting for that moment.

I’m in that Walk Through stage right now and it’s hard to let others read it, because there is so much more that will be layered on later that will make the experience more meaningful. But it’s still necessary because it’s easy to mess up the tone and pace, even that early.

So tell me, what is your 1st draft process like?


  1. I like this analogy. I kind of edit as I go. But the real work of revising, is a struggle for me. Thinking of it as a play may just help me to think of the work differently! Thanks!

  2. I'm one of those who edit and revise as I go along. That way when I write the end it's more or less a cohesive whole and I only have to fix minimal things before I let my critique partners have at it.

    Well, that was the way I did it until in my latest WiP, I was almost finished and the whole thing blew up in my face. Plot lines got messed up and now I have to pretty much start at the beginning again. Oh well. Writing is hard work.

    Hope all is well.

  3. Hi Don - not having written a book I'm not sure .. but I think I'd revise as I go - I do now for my articles or blog posts. I do read things through slowly and methodically to make sure it reads well ...

    The thought of writing a stage play would give me the heebie-jeebies! Good luck .. and cheers Hilary

  4. I'm a blow and go kind of writer. I tend to write my first drafts (or zero drafts as I call them) relatively quickly and I do minimal revising as I go. I also leave myself notes through the MS as I go if I realize as I'm writing something needs changing or moving or cutting out so I can remember what I was thinking when I go back to revise. My schedule means I usually leave finished drafts at least 6 months before revising them, so it's easy to forget what I was thinking at the time. I've often revised a book and drafted another in between.

  5. Mine is mostly what others call writing an outline. I don't like for anyone to read the first two or three drafts. I try not to go back too often for editing, although I will go back to add scenes. Our process sounds a lot alike.

  6. I'm definitely somewhere in between! I want to just plow through and lay the groundwork but I can't help but hate that it's not perfect, so I try to edit as I go which is bad and winds up slowing me down. I need to learn to just relax more and know it'll wind up better with revisions :)




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