Why You Should or Shouldn’t Fast-Draft Your Novel

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Events like NaNoWriMo have popularized the idea of creating first drafts in record time. Ideally, during NaNo, you create a finished book, but that is rare, and participants usually accept full first drafts as a sign of success. You no longer need to wait for November to write a first draft quickly, though. Say hello to fast-drafting, a process that focuses on getting a rough first draft on the table as quickly as possible. Also, Inkitt offers the Novel Writing Bootcamp with a free 5-lessons video course on how to write a novel with Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Editor of The Martian). Additionally, as a sneak peek, Inkitt is working on a Masterclass with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which will be released soon.

Fast-Drafting Benefits

First of all, as the name implies, fast-drafting gives you a first draft quickly. Many of us struggle to get that dreaded first run-through committed to paper, and this process gets the pain over with in record time. If you hesitate a lot while you write, put too much pressure on yourself, or over think every little detail, then fast-drafting could be your savior. This process emphasizes speed rather than attention because fans of this method don’t believe a first draft needs much besides the bare bones. Your words may not flow. Repetitive prose and passive voice will haunt you. None of it matters, though, because no one will ever see this draft, ever. Feel free to make as many mistakes as you like. So long as the general story makes it down on paper, you’ve won. Many find this process liberating, empowering them to complete more projects with less stress.

The Drawbacks

Many of fast-drafting’s problems stem from divergent writing styles. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser? If you don’t know where your narrative is heading before you sit down to make your first draft, you will inevitably have to take breaks. This isn’t a sign of weakness or failing – you just can’t sit down and bang out a story when you can’t see the whole thing in your head. So, although fast-drafting sounds like something a Pantser would do, it actually plays to the Plotter’s strengths.

Besides needing to know where you’re going, you must master the art of redrafting. Fast-drafters are great editors. Their stories blossom in revisions, and these writers have the long-term dedication to polish following drafts. If you get a lot of your best content during first drafts, and you use following drafts to simply clean up and expand on those nuggets of gold, then fast-drafting may not be for you.

Making the Decision

So, how will you draft your next book? Will you take the fast track or follow the slower path? Both work, but one may be wrong for you, or wrong for the particular project you’re working on. Analyze your own work habits. Would pushing everything aside and just typing out a rough draft help you get moving, or would you lose the slow-growing thoughts that make your work special? It’s up to you.

If you aren’t sure about writing a fast-draft, experiment with a smaller project. Try it with a novella or short story, something that will take a lot less work and represent a smaller commitment in case things don’t pan out and you decide to start over. Fast-drafting is a great writing tool. All you have to decide is whether it fits you, your project, and your style.


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  1. Gary Gordon on

    I wrote my first and only novel having zero idea what was going to happen in the next sentence until I started typing it.I just kept typing to find out what would happened how it would end.
    Start to finish, it took about three weeks to type a 120,000 word sci by story.
    I hated taking English in school all those years ago because I could not remember so the tiles to follow. I eventually found out that I can not access short term memories.
    As such, I wanted to have someone read it for problems or mistakes but had no luck in finding someone who could help.
    How can I find someone to help with this?

    • Hi Gary, thanks for your message. If you are looking for feedback from our community to help spot any problems or mistakes I would suggest you start by looking at our Groups section on the platform. There you will be able to find other users to help you with your story. If you are looking for reviews specifically, I would recommend you take a look at our “Review Me” group. Hope this helps!

      • Hi Gary and Marvin. I can’t find the “Review Me” group. I’m willing to review the writing of others, fiction or non-fiction, any genre. I promise a minimum one thousand word review. Contact [email protected]

  2. Hi there, this article is pretty interesting but I’m still kinda stuck between just going for the quick draft and doing proper research and then writing it.
    How long should a first draft be? 20000 words? or just a few pages with a draft outline?

    • Hi Marissa,
      In my opinion, a first draft is the full manuscript. Depending on age category your word count would be somewhere between 50k and 100k words. All the raw material, including research should be part of the first draft, even a fast draft. Subsequent edits will smooth things out. The faster you write the draft, the more editing you will need to do later, but the draft should be you getting the rough story out on paper. Good luck!

  3. We all have plenty of story ideas that usually come to us as a brief scene with characters in a situation. If the idea grabs us we start writing. It often happens that the idea runs out of steam and just doesn’t hold our interest anymore. The time we spent on it is time wasted. That’s the advantage of fast-drafting. We learn very quickly if the story has legs or not.

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