Posted by: nancyisanders | June 24, 2015

Chapter Book: The First Draft

DSCN2716 - Version 2

I just finished sewing this baby quilt for my niece who just had her third precious little girl. Sometimes when I make baby quilts, I put them together in a week or two. On this one, I took my time and worked on it over several months. It was a new pattern for me so I met together with 2 of my quilting friends once a month and we sewed our quilts at the same time.

That’s how it is with this early chapter book we’ve been working on. Earlier this year, we wrote an early chapter book in just one month. CLICK HERE to see the first entry about that journey and get those posts.

But for this book, we’re taking our time. I’m working on my chapter book little by little and bit by bit as I have the time and interest. I’m heading into writing the first draft now that we’ve got lots of pre-writing prep under our belts!

Over the years as I’ve worked on writing the first draft of early chapter books, here are some strategies I’ve tended to use. See if they might work for you, too!

I develop a roadmap of my plot and chapter by chapter summary.

I gather in research books about my characters, setting, or topic that will help me along my journey.

Mentor Text
I find a mentor text that I want my story to be like in voice and structure and technique.

The first chapter
I sit down at my writing session and read the first chapter of my mentor text. Following my plot chart and chapter-by-chapter summary, I write the draft of the first chapter. After the first draft is finished, I note where I need to research something or brainstorm something. I try to do those tasks throughout the day.

The second chapter
I sit down at this writing session and read the first and second chapter of my mentor text. I read over what I wrote in the last writing session (my first chapter) and edit it for a short time. Then I write the draft of the second chapter. When finished, I note where I need to research something or brainstorm more ideas for something. I try to do those tasks throughout the day.

Continuing to the last chapter
I repeat this process until the first draft is finished.

Plug-in Techniques
After the first draft is done, I go back in and plug in techniques such as cliff-hangers, sensory detail, humorous spots, poetic devices (rhyme, rhythm, and repetition), metaphors, etc.

I take my manuscript through several rounds of self-editing. If I’m participating in a critique group I get group feedback, too.

I hope you enjoy the journey with your early chapter book! If you have any questions at any time about the process, please feel free to ask!

Next up here on my blog we’ll be switching to explore various educational publishers and packagers and even submit to them. Hope you’ll join me on the journey!


  1. Nancy, I’ve been meaning to get a note off to you (and will). I just want to say how much I enjoyed learning about chapter books with you. A real eye opener for me was actually going through the book we’d read and having you point out the strategies the author used. Chock full! It’s one thing to read something you need to do, but then to see it in action… It’s a combined WOW/DUH experience. πŸ™‚ Speaking for myself only, of course. I’ll be back!

    • Mary, I’m so glad you found my teleclass so helpful. Yay!!!! Looking forward to having you join in more of them with me.

  2. Hi Nancy,
    I totally agree with Mary πŸ™‚ I’m still having time issues, but I hope some day soon, I can find a writing rhythm πŸ™‚
    I love the quilt! It’s beautiful πŸ™‚ I have made a couple of attempts on making quilts, but I haven’t got it mastered yet (lol).
    Have any tips on how to end the quilt without it looking like you can see where I ended it…lol.

    • Thank you, Kathy! And glad you’re having fun with your quilt, too!

  3. Nancy, Every post you write is as thoughtfully put together and as beautiful as that quilt. I don’t know how you manage to do so much, but thank you for sharing with us.

    • Mona, you blessed my heart with your sweet words!

  4. Beautiful quilt – I’m sure your niece will cherish it. I really appreciate your posts!

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