A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

A-Z of first to final draft


A is for Agonising over how to start.

B is for Beginning. Because there’s no other way except to get words down on paper.

C is for Character Arc and Conflict. Developing both. Oh and also for Chocolate. Stockpile it.

D is for Dumping – every idea, scene, development, dialogue. You can sort it out later.

E is for Ernest Hemingway and his oh-so wise words: ‘Every first draft is shit’. Écoutez et répétez.

F is for Forgetting there’s a life outside of writing. Is there?

G is for Gut instinct: locating it, listening to it, believing in it.

H is for Hands-off. Leaving time after finishing the first draft before re-entry, so you can read with fresher eyes.

I is for Ignoring the demon in your head who tells you you’re no good and it’s no good. Refer the beast to E.

J is for Joy when it’s going well. Before the pain sets in as it gets hard again.

K is for Killing your darlings. Cut out the irrelevant, the inconsequential, the pretty but useless. The oh-but that means a lot to me (ahem, but not to anyone else).

L is for Libraries. Keep researching as you go.

M is for Mountain climbing. Because that’s what it can feel like – and the peak seems a long way off.

N is for Nit-picking. Be critical, get watchful, stay creative.

O is for Objectivity – step back and look back at where you’ve come.

P is for Polarity – push and pull and tension and contrasts. Also for Patience (revising can be a sloooow process)

Q is for Question – as in the burning question of the novel: what is it? Is it answered?

R is for Reading aloud. Words sound different spoken.

S is for Show not tell. Fine toothcomb out any dull telling and replace with inventive showing.

T is for Theme and Truth – for what’s at the heart of your story, and making sure every scene reflects it.

U is for Understanding the motivation of every character, however minor.

V is for Vigorous editing: read, edit, read, edit, read, edit, and again, read, edit . . .

W is for Waiting (painful, email watching, nail-biting, self-flagellation, waiting) to hear what agent & editor think.

X is for The 24th letter of the alphabet. Err, it’s the best I can do.

Y is for Yelling out loud: You only gone and bloody finished it!

. . . And Z is for a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, because Dr Seuss says so.



IMG_5994Alex Campbell
Wesbite, Facebook, Twitter

Alex Campbell announced she was going to be an author at the age of eight. But no one took much notice. Which was generally how life developed thereafter. After a nomadic school career in back row daydreaming, and one English degree later, she moved into the world of PR and copywriting where she got other people and products noticed instead. Continue reading…

Books: LAND | CLOUD 9

“Packed with twists and dilemmas, the pace never slackens, pulling you towards to its enthralling conclusion. Highly recommended.” — Emma Haughton, author of Now You See Me for Land


One comment on “A-Z of first to final draft

  1. Pingback: The Six (Sometimes Painful) Phases of Writing a Novel | AUTHOR ALLSORTS

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This entry was posted on April 11, 2016 by .


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