The First Draft

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Novel writing

Write your novel in six months

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Take This Course

Take your novel plan and turn it into a 50,000+ word first draft
Finish the course with a solid manuscript
Join our lovely little online community to support you through starting, middling, finishing and beyond

Bash out your first draft with step-by-step guidance, support, inspiration and the best writing community in town!

Writing the first draft of a novel is an epic, exciting, and sometimes daunting undertaking — but you definitely don’t have to do it alone! The First Draft course will make even the most ambitious writing project feel totally doable by breaking the mammoth task of novel writing down into manageable chunks, and offering advice, support, tea, biscuits and silly gifs, every step of the way.

There’s no one single way to write a novel, which is why we’ve brought together a huge collection of flexible approaches, techniques and ideas to help you find the best way to write YOUR first draft. Whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or an ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ writer, The First Draft course is packed with options to suit everyone, along with practical exercises, examples, and prompts to keep you going.

We also have the most AMAZING online writing community for 24/7 chat, feedback, critique, troubleshooting and general writerly shenanigans!

Let us help you walk your story idea through The First Draft and come out the other side with a novel.

76 steps in 25 sections

  • Introduction to The First Draft
  • 11. Get your house in order

    • THE PLOT SHAKEDOWN
    • TIMETABLING FTW
    • YOUR FIRST SCENE

    22: The First Act

    • PROGRESS CHECK IN
    • BEGINNINGS…
    • KICKSTART YOUR STORY

    3PART 3: Inciting stuff

    • A QUICK MIRROR CHECK
    • INCITING INCIDENTS
    • INCITE YOUR STORY

    44: Refuse the call

    • PLOTTING CHECK IN
    • LA LA LA I CAN”T HEAR YOU
    • RESEARCH AKA PRODUCTIVE (KIND OF) PROCRASTINATION

    55: Set it up

    • TIMETABLE FTW
    • THE STORY SET-UP
    • GET SET, GO!

    66: Crisis ahoy!

    • THE FIRST CRISIS
    • YOUR CHARACTERS WORST FEARS
    • PRODUCTIVE PROCRASTINATION

    77: Crossing the threshold

    • CHARACTER GOALS
    • CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
    • INVERSIONS AHOY

    88: Subplots

    • DOWNTIME
    • SECONDARY STORY THREADS
    • CONNECTING THE DOTS

    99: The Second Act

    • TWEAKS AND AJUSTMENTS
    • THE SECOND ACT
    • JUMP INTO THE ACTION

    1010: Magical midpoints

    • PIVOT ON THE MIDPOINT
    • THE FALSE VICTORY/DEFEAT
    • REACTING TO THE MIDPOINT

    1111: Midway progress

    • HOW DOES YOUR PROTAG GROW?
    • DIFFERENT TYPES OF SECOND ACT
    • TIGHTENING UP A SAGGY MIDDLE

    1212: Having a terrible time

    • LET’S ALL HAVE A TERRIBLE TIME
    • WHAT IS YOUR CHARACTER LEARNING?
    • WORKING BACKWARDS

    1313: Pinch points

    • A QUICK PLOT CHECK
    • PINCH PUNCH
    • CHARACTER CHOICES

    1414: All is lost

    • THE LONG DARK TEATIME OF THE SOUL
    • LAYERS OF BASTARDY
    • ALL IS LOST CHECKLIST

    1515. Navel gazing

    • YET ANOTHER MIRROR MOMENT
    • ELEMENTS OF NAVEL GAZING
    • A WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN (AGAIN)

    1616: The Third Act

    • A BRIEF PEP TALK
    • THE THIRD ACT
    • PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER

    1717: Pull yourself together

    • KEEP MOVING FORWARD
    • RALLY THE TROOPS
    • HOW’RE THESE SUBPLOTS DOIN?

    1818: Slaying the bad guys

    • PICKING OFF THE LITTLE GUYS
    • CRANK UP THE TENSION
    • BACK TO CHARACTERISATION 101

    1919: Failure

    • PLOT REVIEW
    • #FAIL
    • SETTING UP THE CLIMAX

    2020: The climax

    • SLAYING THE BIG BOSS
    • HEART-STOPPING CLIMATIC SCENES
    • REACHING A SATISFYING CLIMAX

    2121: Wrapping up

    • THE HARD SLOG TO THE END
    • THE WRAP UP
    • ELEMENTS OF A GREAT ENDING

    2222: Endings & loose ends

    • SWITCH IT UP
    • TYING UP THE LOOSE ENDS
    • ENDING STRUCTURE

    2323: The final sprint

    • THE EMOTIONAL ENDING
    • HEADING FOR THE FINISH LINE
    • WHERE YOU AT?

    2424: What to do with a first draft

    • HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE FINISHED?
    • WHAT TO DO WITH A FIRST DRAFT- PART 1
    • WHAT TO DO WITH A FIRST DRAFT- PART 2

    2525: What comes next?

    First draft success stories

    Invaluable!

    The First Draft course helped me more than I can really say. It turned my novel from a vague idea to a proper story with a proper journey. The tools that I learned have made the process of writing my novel smoother, more structured and more enjoyable to write. Can’t rate the course enough.
    Kezia Barr
    The First Draft

    First bloody draft

    Seriously could not have done it without this course. plotstormers, making people and now first draft! My dreams are becoming real. Thanks WHQ! 5 STARS!

    Gill O'Sullivan
    The First Draft

    A Writers' HQ course that totally utterly butterly ROCKS!

    Jan McCarthy
    The First Draft

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