Should You Fast-Draft Your Novel?

Should you fast-draft your novel? Kristen Kieffer share her step-by-step process for writing speedy first drafts in this post from She's Novel.

Do you follow me on Facebook or Twitter?

If so, you likely saw my recent poll, where I asked if you'd prefer longer or shorter content on the She's Novel blog–or a combination of both. Your answer? Both!

This was exciting for me because I've only done long, in-depth content here on the blog, but I've been accumulating quite a few shorter post ideas recently. But obviously, I didn't want to write shorter posts if that wasn't something you guys were interested in. 

But you are indeed. HURRAY!

So today launches the first punchy, tip-packed post here on She's Novel. Our topic? Fast-drafting! This post was suggested by my friend Jenn from The Paper Scientist, and I thought it was especially apt considering I'm currently fast-drafting my latest WIP, The Eaves of Fall.

Without any further ado, let's dive in!

What is fast-drafting?

Great question!

Fast-drafting is literally the process of writing the first draft of your novel (or short story, novella, etc.) as quickly as possible. No hesitation. No excuses. No editing-as-you-go. 

Who is fast-drafting for?

Fast-drafting is definitely not the right technique for every writer. If you don't pre-write your books or if you can't easily write 1,000 words in an hour, this is probably not the best technique for you.

But we all know that it's in editing that novels are truly made.

If you have a strong idea of your plot and characters before writing, getting them down on paper ASAP is key. The sooner you finish your first draft, the sooner you can make magic happen in editing.

That's where fast-drafting comes into play!

Keep in mind, the first draft of your novel is never about pretty prose, but rather about exploring your story. So fast-drafting may seemingly result in *horrible* first drafts, when they actually produce drafts with great bones that simply need a bit of dressing and tailoring during the editing process.

The Pros and Cons

Fast-drafting is in no way the perfect technique for every writer, but it can be very helpful for the right writer, myself included.


  • You complete a full first-draft in very little time.
  • You don't spend precious writing time perfecting scenes you'll only cut in editing.
  • You get to move on to editing–where the real magic happens–much more quickly.
  • In a matter of weeks, you can have a full-length manuscript in your hands!


  • You often have to re-write or polish everything during editing.
  • You may experience burnout after so many days of fast, fierce writing.
  • It may not work well with your writing process, especially if you're a pantser.


How long should fast-drafting take?

There is no set rule for how long fast-drafting should take. In fact, your fast-drafting pace will depend on your writing schedule, your typing speed, the estimated length of your novel, and other similar factors.

Some writers complete their first drafts in as little as four or five days, where my own fast drafts usually take about 1.5 months. (To put that in context for you, I write 110k+ fantasy novels.)

If you intend to try fast-drafting, think about the factors we discussed above, and consider setting deadlines or other goals for yourself–more on that below.

All that said, fast-drafting shouldn't take any longer than two months or you're probably dipping into a "regular" drafting pace.

How can I fast-draft successfully?

Here are a few tips for you!

  • Pre-write first. One of the easiest ways to write faster is to actually know what you'll be writing next at any given moment. That's why I personally create a chapter-by-chapter outline before writing, as well as in-depth character sketches for all of my MCs.

    (I've heard that some pantsers enjoy fast-drafting, but I've yet to meet any fast-drafting pantsers for myself. If that's you, tell me how your process works in the comments below!)
  • Be intentional. If you know you're about to begin fast-drafting, make sacrifices for your work. Carve out blocks of writing time intentionally. Say no to hangouts with friends and family. Take a day off or a vacation from work if you can. Go on a TV strike.
  • Ditch expectations. If you're fast-drafting, your writing is going to suck. Seriously, don't expect your manuscript to sound pretty at any time. Ditch those high expectations you have for yourself, kick doubt to the curb, and focus on nailing down your plot and characters.
  • Set goals. If you're the type of writer who can crank out 15k or 20k in a single day, I don't think you'll have any problem fast-drafting your novel. But if endless writing energy isn't on your side, setting goals can help you see your fast-drafting through.

    I personally set a deadline for my entire draft, but you may consider choosing a daily goal instead, such as "I will write 2,500 words a day."

Other types of fast-drafting...

Finally, you may also hear of other types of fast-drafting from time to time.

In some cases, authors will only write the most important scenes in their novels, filling in the "less important" scenes in editing. Other writers type up every scene but don't add descriptions, preferring to stick only to dialogue and action. They will only write those descriptions after finalizing their plot.

I'm not a big fan of either of these types of fast-drafting, but they may be worth trying out if you think they'll mesh well with your personal writing process.

Let's Chat!

Did you enjoy reading this new punchy-style post here on the She's Novel blog? If so, let me know in the comments below and I will be sure to create more soon!

And how about fast-drafting? Will consider working it into your writing process? Do you have any questions about this technique that I can answer for you? You know where to find me! ⬇

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Kristen Kieffer is a writer of fantasy fiction and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel. She's made it her mission to help aspiring authors write sensational novels because obliterating expectations is her jam. Her other passions? Coffee and Tolkien, of course!

Kristen is the author of the upcoming The Books of Maveryn series and The Astral Series, as well as several non-fiction books for writers.