First drafts

“I stink!”

First drafts are terrible.

Everybody’s first drafts are terrible, even great writers. What makes the difference is revision: “re” again + “vision” look. Good writing depends on looking again and again.

For your first draft, we’re going to try to make sure you have the two most important boxes of the four box format:

  • The Anecdotal Lead
  • The Nut

What are these two parts?

Your story should open with an anecdotal lead, a description of people doing something.

Fingers fly over the raised dots, doing the work that eyes cannot. Eleven children in yellow T-shirts are reading one of three passages — “Rainy Day Fun,” “Two Great Vacation Ideas” and “Velveteen Rabbit.” Then they turn to their Perkins Braillers, which look like a manual typewriter with just nine keys, and stamp out answers to questions that test their reading comprehension.

“I’m not very nervous,” 9-year-old Ashlee Thao said before the 50-minute test began. “I got all of the nervousness out of my mind. Now I’m just very excited.”

Next, “The Nut”. You should be able to state clearly what this story is about and why it is important.

Thao was among 60 blind students ages 6 to 19 who gathered at the Braille Institute of America in Los Angeles on Saturday for the 10th annual Braille Challenge, a competition aimed at drawing attention to the declining use of Braille and its importance to literacy in the blind community.

Throw all the rest of your data into the draft. Worry about everything else in the second draft.

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