12 Baby Steps to a Complete Story: First Draft + General Critique

A Pen In Each Hand

So you have an idea, but you don’t know where to start… and the end seems so far away it might as well be on Pluto. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Follow the 12 Baby-Steps to a Complete Story and you’ll be on your way. Each month, we’ll post a new exercise. Do each month’s exercise and by the end of the year, you’ll have a polished story (or personal essay, if you prefer non-fiction) ready to submit!

The time-line here is designed for a short piece of writing, not a book, but if you’d like to do it with a novel idea, you’re welcome to. If you’d just like to do the exercises as practice, and use different pieces for each exercise, that’s fine too. Adapt the exercises any way you like. There are no rules, just ideas.

Background Image: Chad Norman (CC-by-nc-sa)

May: First Draft + General Critique
Exercise #5

Write your story – the whole thing if it’s a short story, chapter one if it’s a novel. Start at the beginning and end at the end. Don’t worry about how much it sucks. Don’t revise or edit-as-you-go. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just write. Get it down. This a rough draft; it’s not meant to be perfect. Reward yourself when you finish.

Correct any glaring spelling/grammar mistakes, but otherwise leave it as is. Post and ask for GENERAL feedback: Does the story make sense? Are the characters likable? Did the first paragraph hook the reader? Was the ending satisfying? etc. Don’t worry about doing anything with the suggestions for now, just thank your readers for their feedback.

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