Dec 6, 2010

Tips to Writing a First Draft by VS Grenier

Writing a first draft for a book, short story, article or even this guest post has always been the most grueling part of writing for me. Why? Well, it’s not because I don’t have any ideas floating around in my head. I can also tell you it’s not because I can’t find anything to say. The trouble I find with writing a first draft is where to begin and/or which idea to start with. You would think the first draft would be the easiest part of writing; however, I find it requires the clearest mindset in order to finish—making it one of the hardest parts of writing.

With this in mind, the question is where do I begin in order to write my first draft? The answer is simple. First, I do research on the topic I plan to write about. Once I have the research finished I outline (loosely outline) my thoughts and information. From here, the first draft should be a simple creation of the words that convey the ideas I wish to express.

It sounds simple, but the truth is this is only the beginning. I still need to choose viewpoint, tense (past or present), develop subplots or additional ideas/topics for nonfiction and clarify my theme. I find the best way to do this is by brainstorming or doing some free writing until an idea, event, a piece of dialogue, character interview or a setting sparks my muse. These first glimpses of story elements help to stimulate my imagination. Now I am ready to start writing the first draft.

I’m a huge fan of finishing a first draft as fast as possible. The main reason, I want to get my ideas and thoughts down before I forget them. I do not spend time editing as I write my first draft. I do that later and I may need to write a number of drafts in order to get to my final polished manuscript, but the first draft isn’t about that and it is best not to expect too much or too little from it.

Once I have written my first draft, I make notes of possible themes and any universal elements that may appeal to a readership. I also note my reasons for writing the story. This may help me find a hidden theme or even subplot I can develop later in my revision stage. It is very important at this time I don’t make any changes or do any editing. Why? Because it’s time to give myself a break. I let my first draft sit for at least a few days and preferably for a few weeks. This way, when I come back to it and begin the second draft, I will have a fresh eyes, more understanding and control over my story.

The thing to remember about writing your first draft is the word "first". Don’t make the mistake in thinking that once a first draft is written, the manuscript is done. The first draft is only one part of the whole writing process that leads to a finished, presentable and hopefully published book.



VS Grenier is an award-winning author and editor who learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI), the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), the League of Utah Writers (HWG chapter), and Musing Our Children. Her works include Babysitting SugarPaw, the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology and over 30 short stories, articles, and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers.

“Having others read what you have written and giving feedback not only makes you a better writer, but you start to understand how a well written story’s voice captures the reader . . . drawing them into your world of ink,” states VS Grenier.

She is the Founder & Owner of Stories for Children Publishing LLC., and also is a freelance editor for Halo Publishing; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services. A California girl at heart, she currently lives in Utah with her husband, their three children, and the family’s big fat cat Speed Bump and miniature schnauzer Taz.

You can learn more about VS Grenier at her author website or her company website You can also follow her on The Writing Mama at


  1. Thank you for hosting me during my virtual tour with Pump Up Your Books.

    Please feel free to leave comments and/or questions. I'll be popping in to respond.

    Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season.

    VS Grenier

  2. Thanks for hosting Virginia today. It's great to have her here.

    Nice article with lots of good advice, Virginia.

    Wishing you the best,


  3. Thank you Cheryl for stopping by and I'm glad you got something out of my guest post.

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