The Fast Draft –Yes or No?

by Rachel Hauck

I’m fast drafting a novel right now. Last night, after dinking around all day, I told myself to “get to it” and blasted out 2000 words in an hour. Give or take a minute or two.

I’m near the end of a book so I know a bit of what’s going on. I have a feel for the characters and the story. Those random conversations characters have together started running randomly through my head a few weeks ago.

Next week, I’ll end this fast draft and start rewriting. Most of the beginning of the story will change, I already know. The middle needs a lot of tweaking. With that in mind, I hope my ending is the most stable part of this fast, first draft.
I’ll have things at the end I can weave into the beginning. Things from the rewrite I can weave into the end.

See, fast drafting without going back to edit or rewrite helps you really discover the novel. It ensures that you’ve discovered all the nuts and bolts, stumbled over symbols and metaphors, discovered a friend or foe of the hero and heroine.

A fast draft takes about four to six weeks. And yes, it’s ugly. Sometimes I just write “blah, blah, something here, emotion, senses,” and move on to the part of the scene I do know.

Sometimes I summarize. “She’s standing in the garden wearing red. Looks so brilliant against the snow. The mother shows up at the door.” Then I move to dialog.

The purpose of this fast draft is pure and simple: discovery.

A lot of times I see manuscripts that have so much potential but the author has spent so much time honing and polishing the first three chapters – a good thing for a contest or proposal – the rest of the story falls a part.

I highly recommend finishing a manuscript before submitting a proposal or chapters to a contest. I know… it drags out the process, but dear ones, in the end, I honestly believe a complete manuscript will heighten and enhance your chance for manuscript request and publication.

Your goal is to write a book. Not to win a contest. Not to wow an editor or agent and get a full request. Harvest House editor Kim Moore said at one ACFW conference her biggest disappointment in dealing with new writers is she finds a proposal she loves but when she asks for the complete story, the author and story don’t deliver.

Why? Because the end does not measure up to the polished beginning. Threads, symbols, emotion, the poetry of the writing falls apart or are left out because the writer was in a hurry.

Slow down. Write a book. A whole book. RWA’s Golden Heart and ACFW’s Genesis contest require a full manuscript verification for each contest entry.

This will ensure the best entries and increase the chance of publication after the fact.

The fast draft is about a whole, complete, THE END book. Let’s review some tips.

  1. Plan your novel. Take a few weeks to just brainstorm and develop your characters and plot. I highly recommend The Book Buddy for this. Brainstorm with writing partners if you can. If not, with anyone who will listen. 
  2. Once you’ve plotted out your story, write a synopsis. Get some kind of road map.
  3. Start writing. Give yourself four to six weeks to hammer out this first draft. Set a word count goal. At this point, the word count is more important than anything else. Hit the daily word count.
  4. Do not rewrite.
  5. Do not edit.
  6. Do not go back and start over.
  7. If you have ideas of changes you want to make, keep a separate document of those ideas. By the time you’re finished with the draft, they may or may not pertain to the story.
  8. If you feel you must rewrite, add those scenes or dialog to the appropriate chapter. But do not polish or fix or do a bunch of editing. Get it down and then go back to plowing through the rest of the book.
  9. When you’ve hit your word count, THEN you can go back and start really writing the novel.

A rewrite can take anywhere from four weeks to ten or twelve. Depends on how much you need and want to change. Depends on your schedule.

I rewrote Love Lifted Me, the third book in the Songbird Novels, in five weeks because I knew the story so well after a first draft – and subsequent polish. But at the end, my editor didn’t think the novel worked so I restructured and replotted it entirely.

I used the bones from the first try to fashion a new “body.” And that book released January 3rd.

All writing on a novel is valuable. Don’t disdain those rough scenes and bland sentences.

On the first rewrite, you will fix the rough scenes and boring sentences.

On the second rewrite, you’ll fix and polish.

On the third rewrite, you’ll make that baby shine.

Are you seeing the underlying theme. Books are not written they are rewritten. Make up your mind about it. You must rewrite.

Now, get to fast drafting. And write to THE END!


New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at

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