Creative Writing Introduction – Session 1 – Page 4

Writing Your First Draft

Writing a first draft of your creative writing project – whether a novel, short story, poem or play – can be a bit daunting. Follow these handy hints to help you organise your thoughts and manage your time:

  • Don’t worry about a great opening line yet.  Simply start writing wherever you like.
  • Keep the flow going in the early stages – keep writing without stopping, going back, re-reading or changing what you’ve written.  There is time for that later.
  • Remember to show not tell – think about how to dramatise what you’re writing about and create visual images.  This will help the reader feel like they’re with you in the story.  If it helps, draw a rough sketch about what you’re trying to get across and then use that to draw out words.
  • If you become stuck on a particular passage, start somewhere else and get going again.  There is nothing that says you have to write in the order it will be read.

Rewriting and Editing Your Creative Writing Project

Rewriting and editing helps to tighten up your work. But it can be difficult – what to chop and when to stop may not be clear especially when you’re invested in the story.  At some point, you may choose to have someone else read it – but be prepared for their critique!  In this course, Kev and Susan are both ready and willing to cast a friendly and supportive eye over your work and provide constructive feedback for you.  

Be aware that you may change your mind more than once during the process.  As a starter though, ask yourself whether you need to take out any of the following:

  • Unnecessary information and explanation.
  • Passages of dialogue that go on too long.
  • Clunky descriptions that give too much detail.
  • Clumsy images that don’t really work.
  • Too many adjectives and adverbs.

You may also need to add or expand some or all of the following:

  • Something you know but have forgotten to tell the reader; perhaps the age of the main character.
  • More specific descriptive information that shows instead of tells; instead of describing a character as ‘old’, why not describe their hair that might be grey.  They may walk slow or their hands/face may be worn but their life and work.
  • Dialogue of what the characters actually say, rather than summaries.
  • Material to add interest or create suspense.
  • A better opening or closing line.

You may also need to move some text around, for example:

  • Dramatic sections to make a stronger opening.
  • Early information to where the reader really needs to know it.
  • Essential information nearer the beginning of the book.
  • Descriptive passages to add tension and suspense to incidents.
  • Words, phrases and sentences to make a better rhythm.

Then, in your final edit (which is a good time to get someone else to read it), check the following:

  • Grammar, punctuation, repeated or omitted words, and spelling mistakes.
  • Ensure you have no continuity errors.
  • Pay particular attention to the first and last lines of any section or scene.
  • Smooth out any awkward words and phrases.
  • Clarify anything that isn’t clear.