Does a zero draft have to be the full novel or part of it?

I am interested in knowing.

Like an entire novel length zero draft of you just writing EVERYTHING that comes to your mind. You’re just vomiting ideas and things onto your paper and not caring about the mistakes and whether or not it makes sense.

You can worry about that later stuff later. The key is to write it ALL OUT WITHOUT THINKING THAT MUCH!!! Just write your story freely.

I saw somewhere that I zero draft should be no longer than ten pages of your novel.

That can’t be true for everyone…right?
What do you think?


I’ve heard the term before, but can’t be bothered to google for what it means. I just write my book, editing as I go, and if I get stuck I put it on my Kindle and read what I have like it’s already a book, then continue on writing from the part where I got stuck. Easy peasy! (*^-‘) 乃

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“It can be however long you want but definitely do NOT publish it because it will make no f-king sense. EDITING IS IMPORTANT CHILDREN” - one of my creative writing professors on zero drafts


Thank you kindly.

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What zero drafting is by Google:

“Have you ever heard of Zero Draft? It is basically a way to draft your story that focuses on JUST telling yourself the story . This way of creating that first draft is giving yourself permission to write without corrections or proper grammar or punctuation. You just write (tell it) until you get the story told”


Oooh, thanks! That sounds to me like it would be the full novel then, not just ten pages. Are you doing that now, and is it working for you so far?

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Not yet. But I will in a bit.

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From what I know, a zero draft is basically getting the story onto the page from point A to point B but with the idea that many things will be changed, revised, and added or deleted later on. Like, you can say “Insert argument here” in a scene where there’s supposed to be an argument but you can’t think of how it’ll go at that moment, so you can skip it until further notice. You can also have “Insert character name” as well for characters you don’t name off the top of your head.

This is different to a normal draft (first draft) where these are usually planned or written out at the time of writing with the idea of just revising it later.

Zero drafts are just meant to help the writer get the story out without too much pressure, because for them, the first draft will mean it’s their official rewriting time. They get into the game, become more serious about it, etc. Where the zero draft just helps vomit the story, you know?


So, the zero draft can be however long you want it to be, because you are just writing freely and in the zone?

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Uh… I’ve never heard of a zero draft. A draft, no matter what stage its at is what you describe, dumping ideas, working organization out, transitions and climaxes and conclusions. I continue to work my draft throughout the years (decades) ironing out plot holes, adding and subtracting events/details, building characters backstories, ensuring characters and environment get fair treatment in the description department.

I try not to get caught up on labeling steps in my process. My draft stays at that stage until I feel it’s polished enough to publish.


Same here.

I’ve never even heard the term “zero draft”.


idk about zero draft, but you can call it anything you want, I suppose. It sounds like a basic first draft to me. I don’t think you have to conform. There are no drafting rules. Do it how you want to do it, is my take. I label my drafts the way I want to.

However, if it helps you to write, go for it. But I wouldn’t worry about page count. I think that limit is just to help you get a concise beginning, middle, and end and not go off on long tangents. It might be good practice.


No clue why someone would say that.

To me, draft one is a complete story. It’s a first draft so it will have issues and will require revisions and maybe even rewrites, but it’s a complete story. You could give it to someone to read (as long as you don’t mind them seeing your mess).

A zero draft is a semi-complete story that you can’t give to someone to read because maybe it’s missing scene transitions or even entire scenes. Zero draft is a mess that you intend to clean up later. The value of it is to get the story out of your head.

At least that’s how I define those.


I can relate.

I sort of give it labels but it’s so… squishy and hard to explain.

My current project I wrote first during NaNoWriMo 2019 and I think it would fit the label of a zero draft. It was a mess, which I think is pretty common around NaNoWriMo. Later, I tried to edit it to turn it into a first draft but I had to stop because there were issues. And then I’d start over and stop again. I think the furthest I ever got was halfway through.

3 years later, I finally finished a complete draft (total rewrite). I call it V5, as in it’s the fifth version of the plot, but it’s not the fifth draft since none of the earlier attempts were finished.

So is this the official first draft? :joy:

I think in the end, it doesn’t matter what label you give it. But labels help simplify descriptions when you talk to other writers.

Btw, I’m already planning V6. :sweat_smile: And V6 is splitting that book into two.

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Don’t know why either. But I am doing my own thing.

@TheTigerWriter and @Darwin: I was the exact same as you two. I didn’t know there was a thing as a zero draft or rather I’ve heard it mentioned a few times, but wondered what it even was.

I was just as lost as you two. LOL!

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Tbh some popular trad published stories don’t make sense lol

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I suppose so. :sweat_smile:

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Pretty much. :sweat_smile:

Zero drafts are the barest bones of a book. While the first draft is the entire skeleton, zero drafts are like pieces of the skeleton before connecting them together… if that makes any sense. In other words, they’re used to word vomit your story however which way you want or need just to get the story out onto the page. Think of it as a detailed outline, but instead of a basic plan, it’s told through storytelling with a combination of dialogue and other things mixed in. The point of it is to not make it perfect or even close to it. You’ll have dialogue sequences, descriptions here and there, but you don’t have to make the descriptions perfect. You can use telling through it all, you can have a scene that you can skip and say “(argument here)” if you don’t want to write the whole scene. First drafts are where these are played out, are written in a semi-decent way. But the first draft after a zero draft would be its rewriting and or revision stage.


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