top of page

#FirstDraftFriday with Allen Wells

Debut author Allen Wells is here with #FirstDraftFriday today to share about the making of his joyful book - IT'S PRIDE, BABY! - which is hitting shelves in just a couple days!

Read on to get inspired and then draft your own picture book manuscript today.

IT'S PRIDE, BABY! written by Allen R. Wells and illustrated by Div Valle, is out Tuesday from Macmillian. 

Pick up a copy at your local indie or order here.

To learn more about Allen, visit:

Allen is generously offering a manuscript critique as a prize for someone who completes a draft today! Details on how to enter at the end of this post.

Welcome, Allen! Can you tell us a little about IT'S PRIDE, BABY!

IT’S PRIDE, BABY! is a love letter to kids affirming that they will be loved unconditionally. Set to the backdrop of Pride in D.C., specifically highlighting the vastness of black queer history in D.C. 

Did you dive right in and start drafting when you had the idea or did you let it stew for a while? Is this how you typically work?

I actually dove right in. I was excited and ready to write after meeting with my editor, Grace. She had a vision for the book and a day after the meeting, I came up with the title, the message I wanted to convey, and the words I wanted to share began to take shape. 

This isn’t how I typical write. I can be a little bit of a pantser. I write a lot of notes to myself and they help me form my stories.  

Talk to us more about your pantser ways. Do you do exercises or have techniques you use to help you flesh out ideas?

Writing prompts. Thanks to Chris Tebbetts for introducing writing prompts. They have been so helpful for me as I draft my stories. 


I love creating a word banks. Words that are relevant to the story. The words help me form the fun and fabulous sentences. 

Oh, I love a good word bank! Do you remember what you thought of your first draft of IT'S PRIDE, BABY! when it was done? Did you think it was a winner or were you not even sure you’d keep working on it? 

I always have a tendency to doubt myself and my abilities. But because I had the love and support of my editor, my agent, my writing community, and my awesome critique group, Writeous Sisters and a Mister, doubting myself was not an option. 

Can you share an excerpt of your original manuscript that changed significantly and how it appears in the final book? How did you know this needed work and what was the process like to get it where it is today?


Don't live behind clouds

Let your spirit soar high

Like bright summer sunbeams-


It's pride, baby. 


Lift your soul to the sky.

Like summer sunbeams

Don’t live behind clouds—

You shine!

It’s Pride, Baby! 

After mulling over it, the structure of the sentences did not flow well, and I really wanted people to scream with celebratory excitement. I want them to feel a sense of Pride when they read it. I needed to add exclamation to It’s Pride, Baby! 

People think punctuation doesn’t matter, but it’s a BIG deal! 

What is the hardest part of writing a first draft for you? And how do you deal with that?

Overcoming wanting to get it right on the first draft!

I always remind myself before I write that it doesn’t have to perfect “at first write.” Great stories take time and refining. 

Any other tips and tricks for getting that first draft committed to the page?

Just sit down and write. It’s all mental. Mentally prepare yourself to sit down and write…and snacks—good snacks. lol. 

I have to reiterate, don’t feel like it has to be perfect “at first write.” 

OK, let's all take a moment to grab snacks and prepare ourselves to write because it's #FirstDraftFriday!

To enter for a chance at a free picture book (non-rhyming) critique from Allen, do the following by 10 pm ET today (May 3, 2024):

  1. Follow me and Allen on Twitter: @HollieWolverton and @AllenwritesWell (or find Allen with the same handle on Instagram or TikTok)

  2. Complete a full picture book draft

  3. Return to this blog post and comment that you’ve completed your draft and provide your Twitter handle or full name. You will need to Sign Up/Log In to leave a comment (it’s easy - just an email and password).

You don’t need to send in your draft or provide proof - we’re all about the honor system here! The lucky winner will be randomly drawn from the comments and announced on Twitter shortly after 10 pm ET tonight.

Happy writing!

89 views15 comments

Recent Posts

See All

15 comentários

Debi Novotny
Debi Novotny
07 de mai.

Great advice, thank you for sharing. Congratulations on a wonderful book!


Pamela Courtney
Pamela Courtney
04 de mai.

Fun! interview and resourceful: " it doesn’t have to perfect “at first write.” Great stories take time and refining." Wonderful advice.


04 de mai.

Thanks so much for the inspiration to write a new draft, Allen and Hollie! I finally broke through the writer's block I have been dealing with all day today and wrote something I'm excited about. Love using word banks and writing prompts, too! Thanks so much for sharing with us, and congratulations on your new book!

--Abby Wooldridge



Done! I too, love to use Word Banks!! Thank you for sharing your journey! -Brandy Bellittera @InkedAuthor31


Completed my draft! Thanks for the reminder that first drafts don't have to be perfect, Allen! Excited to read your book!

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page