First drafts are hard.

No, seriously. We pay lip-service to the idea of writing being a finicky, petty and blood-sucking monster, but for real, it can be a killer to try to start a new book. No matter how confident you feel about where you are as a writer, or as an anything, first attempts tend to rough us up, WWE style, with about as many theatrics to boot.

As much as I tell myself that it’s fine to let a first draft be crappy, and as much as I tell myself that I need to wait to revise, the urge to tweak is so strong I send myself into obsessive fits.

I doubt I’m the only one.

What I’ve discovered as that during my first drafts I don’t need critiques. I mean, yes, I need them in the long run, but for the purpose of vanquishing the draft I need a cheerleader more than I need to be told all the ways that it’s not great. I’ll see those for myself later, and they’ll fuel my revisions. The fuel of the first draft is the seed of your idea, that little pearl that got you salivating over the concept in the first place. The trick is to water it.

Here’s the secret: Your thing is good and you should feel good.

So here’s what we’re going to do, should anyone want to participate. We’re going to post small excerpts of first drafts, rough starts, anything we’re starting up. And then I’m going to tell you why your thing is awesome.

I’ll go first. This is a short excerpt from my rough, rough draft of The Jimmy Project, about a super-powered teen who was raised by the United States in an alternate 1950s Earth. He siphons emotions from people around him and uses them to fuel his abilities. The catch is that he grew up with barely any emotions of his own. Here’s a small bit after the inciting incident, which causes him to feel some major feels for the first time in his life.


“I’m going to show you some pictures, Jimmy. Is that OK?”

He nodded.

She pulled the first one up from her clipboard. A blue sky. “Tell me the first thing this makes you think of.”


“A tactical advantage.”

Dr. Howl watched him for a moment, her face betraying nothing. With no way of seeing his own expression, he wondered if he could keep his emotions hidden. He’d never had to practice something like this before.

The next picture: a boy and a girl, holding hands.



She nodded and pulled out another picture. A dead body this time.

My job.

“Collateral damage.”

This went on for quite some time. Jimmy only told the truth once, when she had held up a picture of a wooden soldier.



There are a million things wrong with this book right now, which I’m about one third of the way through. But there are things I love. I love that Jimmy is discovering what makes him human in the midst of these god-like powers. I love that he’s experiencing emotions and life for the first time, as a teenager. And I love the action sequences, which are fueled by some cool emotional imagery.

All these things are what get me excited about the book, and every project has its own pearls. So, feel free to post yours, and I’ll tell you why it’s awesome. Because your thing is good and you should feel good.

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