6 Questions To Ask Before You Even Start Your First Draft

6 Questions To Ask Before You Even Start Your First Draft

We’ve put together a post on questions you should ask before you start your first draft.

In a previous post, I wrote about first drafts versus second drafts. Now, I want to discuss six questions that can help you along the way.

I mentioned that I wrote my first draft without stopping to fix or rewrite. As the story develops and changes, I figure out where the plot holes are and what will and will not work.

But, before I start on my first draft, I try to answer the following questions.

Click here for the companion infographic for this post: First Draft Checklist For Novelists

6 Questions To Ask Before You Even Start Your First Draft

  1. Who is your protagonist and antagonist? Without these two characters, you will find it hard to get going, because this is where your conflict comes from. And conflict is what we want to read about. Your protagonist has a goal and your antagonist opposes that goal.
  2. Can you tell your story in three lines? This is one of the best tests for your idea. Whether you call it a ‘pitch slam’, or an ‘elevator pitch’ this forces you to consider your story. This is something you will rewrite several times, but try to write one before you start.
  3. Have you figured out your inciting moment? This is the moment of change for your character. Remember we don’t start with backstory or flashbacks. You need to drop your character right in the middle of the action. Your character’s goal often comes from this moment.
  4. Have you identified your first, second and third surprises? About one third into your story you should give your reader a surprise, then the middle should have a bigger surprise and then near the end you should have a big surprise or significant plot point.
  5. Do you have your sub-plots in place? Besides the two main characters, you’ll have a friend character and a love interest. These characters will help you flesh out your plotline and the lives of your protagonist. They will provide your sub-plots.
  6. How does the story end? I need to know where I am going. Some authors believe they shouldn’t know the ending, but I have to know. That doesn’t mean it can’t change.

You will be able to answer some of these with ease. Some you haven’t even considered. What this list does is force you to think about the whole story. It is a starting point.

It is important to remember that you can change any, or all, of this as you go along, but it helps to get you going. It gives you direction, it gives your protagonist a goal, and it helps you to find your antagonist.

Click here for the companion infographic for this post: First Draft Checklist For Novelists

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. How To Turn Your Messy First Draft Into Something That Resembles A Novel
  2. Music In Writing: Part One – Pacing
  3. Music In Writing: Part Two – Memories

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Posted on: 10th June 2015
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