Today we have a guest post from author Cady Hammer who runs the Fluff About Fantasy website and is an inspiration (and resource) for young writers!
So, you’re a young writer or a new writer sitting down to start your first novel. Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards writing success.
That in itself is an amazing thing that you should be proud of. You’re probably feeling a lot of mixed emotions right now. When I sat down to write my first full-length novel, I remember being excited and nervous at the same time. I had faith in the story idea that I had, and I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper. But I also was nervous that I didn’t have what it took to finish the book all the way through. Despite all of these conflicting feelings, trust me, the first time you put the words in your mind out onto the page will feel triumphant.
When I set out to write my first draft, I did hours of research in what writing a first draft of a fantasy novel would be like. I researched the pitfalls I should avoid and the elements to keep in mind as I started writing. Today, I want to share with you what I learned from writing my first draft in hopes that it will help you find your way.
Make sure you have your basic information in front of you when you start.
This is the logical first step to starting a fantasy novel, and honestly, is really more like a step zero than a step one. If you have any notes or ideas from when you started toying with your story idea, you will want them readily available to refer back to.
If you’re an outliner like me, this could mean a thorough outline, character notes, or notes on the setting. I had all of these open in various tabs as I worked on my draft. If you’re a pantser and like to create on the fly, you may not need anything to refer back to.
But maybe even if you are a pantser, you have made some brief notes about your characters or one or two events that are supposed to drive the plot forward. Keeping these nearby will set you up for success when you’re in a fury writing and you can’t remember what you wanted your one character’s hair to look like or their middle name.
The hardest part of writing your first draft is starting.
No, really it is.
A blank page is intimidating. That blinking cursor or the shadow of your pen hovering over your notebook can be hypnotizing. Those doubts often begin creeping back into your head.
Is this the right idea? Do I know enough about what I want to write to start writing? Am I a good enough writer to start a novel on a whim? What am I doing?
I promise you, you are good enough.
The most important thing is to just start. You don’t even have to start at the beginning. When I was working on my book, I jumped around constantly. Whichever scene I had inspiration for, I would write. This resulted in the book coming together in a very piecemeal fashion. But that ended being exactly what I needed to finish my draft. Once you start, there’s no telling how far you can go.
Don’t Censor Yourself.
First drafts are really about getting your thoughts from your head down onto the page. But honestly, this is the hardest thing for young writers to implement.
A lot of writers have the tendency to edit as they write. It’s a habit that is hard to break. As a high school writer, I often would stop myself from writing new material in favor of fixing old material over and over again until it was “perfect.” I told myself that by editing the chapter I had already written, I would get more inspiration to continue writing.
It never worked.
The best way to get from the beginning to the end of your book is to throw every word and detail you can think of down onto those pages. Trust me, I didn’t realize how much backstory and worldbuilding details I could actually include until I worked with my editor for the first time. Remember: the second draft is about making the first draft look like you knew what you were doing all along. You will have plenty of time to smooth things out.
The best advice I can give you is to write fast. That’s it. Write fast.
I know that probably sounds strange, but I learned this tip in a fantastic article by Marissa Meyer, author of the Cinder series. It really stuck with me as I started Chasing Fae. Meyer sets herself a short time frame to complete her first draft, usually a month. I would say a month is a good place to start, especially if you’re writing during NaNoWriMo. Then she does whatever she can do to stick to that timeline. Writing every day helps to reach that goal.
Giving yourself a deadline will help you to not censor yourself as I mentioned above. Having to work quickly means you’re not necessarily spending time thinking about editing; you’re thinking about creating.
I hope these tips help you on your writing journey. Please take my advice and start that story. You have so much potential as a writer; it’s unfathomable. I want to see you join me among the league of novel writers. I wish you the best of luck!
Learn more about Cady at
Fluff About Fantasy: https://www.fluffaboutfantasy.com
Chasing Fae on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ghrr4l
Chasing Fae on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/chasing-fae