Writing the first draft

plan your story with post-its

Using post-it notes or index cards can be very helpful in planning your story

When you’re writing your script, it’s important to take the pressure off and ban your inner critic from meddling.

Writing a script for my comics was the lesson that took my process to the next level. And after I learned to write a script, the next most important lesson was to think of my script in terms of drafts. After all, if it’s a first draft, you don’t have to be Alan Moore right from the go!

Here are some pointers for getting that first draft done:

  • Empty your head as fast as you can. Get it on paper, beginning, middle and end. You can always change the particulars later.
  • Perfection is not what you’re going for. It’s a first draft and it will be edited later! Don’t worry about grammar or mull over character names or location description, just get the story beats down.
  • Resist the urge to show your writing to anyone before the first draft is finished. Stephen King talks about writing with the door closed or door open in his book On Writing (which I can highly recommend). This means the first draft is yours and yours alone. If you have people critizing or asking the wrong questions it can totally derail your process. Write your first draft with the door closed.
  • Think through scenes before you sit down to write them. Take notes or just run through the scene in your head. The good thing is you can do this anywhere, anytime. And it makes the actual writing SO much easier.
  • Break it down into manageable parts if you feel looking at your entire story is overwhelming. 1st act, 2nd act, 3rd, act, individual scenes. Decide how many scenes is necessary to get from point A to point B and deal with each scene as its own little story, with beginning, middle and end.
  • Always be moving forward. Force yourself to get to the end before you go back and change things in what you’ve already written. Take notes of what you want to change but save the editing for the second draft.
  • Know the ending before you write the beginning. No, you don’t need to know the particulars but have an idea, a destination. At least know if it ends on a happy note or if it’s a tragic journey you’re setting out on.
  • Bonus tip: When you DO get to the end and write that the way it’s supposed to be, go back and rewrite the beginning so you can put in little clues about the ending!

Now, as I say in episode 2 of the tutorial videos, it’s time to put your script in a drawer and forget about it!

Related video: Writing your script




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2 Responses to “Writing the first draft”

  1. Paulie December 23, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    Invaluable insight man, seriously. Palle I don’t know how you do it, but you make it seem easy even though it’s not. Empty your head is so simplistic of an idea, that no one thinks about it or applies it. Even taking an overwhelming 3 Act story & breaking it down into parts is great advice. You have a very relatable atmosphere, that you’ve created bro. It doesn’t come off like you are a know it all or condiscending by any means. This is the blueprint I’ve been needing. As I mentioned in my other comment from your video, the stress of getting the story down without giving into the rewriting temptation is tough. Having read Story by Robert McKee & aforementioned Stephen King book On Writing, sometimes it still feels like they are speaking alien. It’s a tall order, with a side order of ‘what the hell are these juggernauts of story talking about.’hah.
    Thanks again for the content dude.

    • Palle Schmidt December 24, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      I am by no means a know-it-all, I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, ha ha!

      Both King and McKee are great, but as you said, they are juggernauts who don’t always put it in terms the layman would understand. In my experience, every book on writing is basically saying the same things – but explained in very different ways. Every 5-8 books I read there’s one where I GET IT, while the others escape me. And the books I where I get it might not be the same as what others get, it’s all individual. I’m glad you connect with the way I try to explain things. Thanks, Paulie!

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