Are you a plotter or a pantser? In case you don’t know, those are the technical terms for writers who carefully outline their stories before they begin, and those who write by the seat of their pants.
Around here, we’re a little bit of both. That’s why Cindy is a big fan of the zero draft. When I’m helping her with a new story idea, she first uses a plot board to come up with the main events in the story. But she can only plot so much before she has to start writing something. And then she plots a little more. And writes a little more. And goes around and around in so many circles that I start to get dizzy.
For Cindy, a zero draft is more than an outline, but not good enough to even be considered a first draft. It’s a chance to learn about the characters and get the story down with no pressure. This draft will never be shown to ANYONE, so it can be full of rambling, incomplete sentences and thoughts. It can start out completely voiceless and have stuff like this: (add description here) or (come up with something funny here).
When it’s done, Cindy has the raw material for an official first draft. Like a chunk of clay on a potter’s wheel before the potter begins, a zero draft looks very little like the finished manuscript.
But it’s a place to start. And that’s the hardest part, right?