What a First Draft Reveals

Andrea Mack brings us her insights on What a First Draft Reveals. She blogs over at That's Another Story, and always has something good to say.

What a First Draft Reveals, by Andrea Mack

Writing a first draft really shows up your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Have you ever noticed how some parts come easily? It shows where your writing is strong. For instance, when I write dialogue, it seems to flow naturally. Later, I probably won't need to do much editing of the dialogue (unless it relates to the plot, of course). I'd say it's one of my writing strengths.

On the other hand, I'm not so good at establishing the setting (among other things). I've been writing so fast, concentrating on bigger things, like the story, that my characters are practically floating in the middle of nowhere. Not always a bad thing, but if your character is in a market and suddenly walks into their bedroom...well you can see how that could cause problems for the reader. My critiquers often point out that I need to add more setting details. Sometimes, they say my settings are too much of the same and need variety.

Have you ever thought about your writing strengths and weaknesses? It's useful sometimes. If you're aware of your weaknesses, you'll have a great starting point for what to tackle when it comes to revision. And it shows where you can do more reading or exercises to develop your writing skill.

Andrea Mack is currently working on a middle grade novel. She likes to dream up cool activities for my kindergarten students, invent imaginative recipes, and explore places she's never been to before.

What strengths and weaknesses does your first draft reveal?


  1. Makes sense...what comes naturally will be most abundant in the first draft. I'm a dialogue gal as well.

    Hmmmm...weakness? Going to go with setting development as well.

    No, I'm not just a copycat. For real.

    I get caught up in the action, especially because I blog and try to keep my words powerful and few, and I forget that it can be equally powerful to lay the backdrop for the action. Thanks for the reminders!

  2. I agree, I get the story idea down but sometimes lack the ability to get enough details in the first draft for the reader to see what I see. It takes several drafts sometimes to get it right. It is a good reminder to make a list of strengths and weaknesses to be clear on what needs my focus on the rewrites.

  3. Oh goodness! The weaknesses! My biggest weakness is, I suppose, continually assuming the reader knows what the hell is going on in my head...

    Actually, I have a hard time with editing my own work, so I usually send it to my mother first, who'll point out all the bits that didn't make much sense.

  4. Thanks for featuring my post, Debbie! You're so kind.

    S.M. Carriere, you made me laugh! I have to make myself think about what the characters could know about a situation, instead of what I know, as the writer.

  5. Andrea, my strength (at least I think) is the dialogue too. I'm weak in many areas but the worst area is probably the lull between climactic moments.

    Debbie, thanks for the great guest post:)

  6. My weakness might be wordiness. When I edit, I need to go back and tighten everything, working hard to get rid of my 'pet' words.

    Great input everyone--and thank you Andrea for giving us all food for thought!




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