Time to Start Writing

The rough draft of your manuscript should be exactly what it sounds like — rough. No smooth edges or rounded corners. It might bulge out in some places or sag in others. Maybe that's why some writers prefer to call it the discovery draft. It sounds so much neater.

Whatever you choose to call it, sit down and write all of your heaped-up ideas and pictures in your mind, as short scenes — whether or not they come in order. Play with words. Let all of the research you've done come together. It doesn't have to be coherent. Shift it around like a puzzle until you know exactly how everything goes.

This is where you have the chance for your writing to really be creative. Throw wild colors at your canvas. Don't be shy. Let it all come out and worry about it later. No one else has to see this version of your story.

Writers talk about “writer's trance,” moments when the story seems to take over and the text begins to flow without the writer thinking about it. For most, this is the best writing they will ever do, and it usually occurs during the rough draft process.

Find a Working Title

Perhaps you already have a title in mind for your novel. If not, now is a good time to come up with at least a working title, one that you can live with until you come up with something better.

A good title is short and catchy, and it both says something about the novel and is appropriate to the genre. Having said that, now is not the time to agonize over what to call this work-in-progress. But do give it a name, because there is something emotionally satisfying about doing that, and because it will give you something to name your project files.

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