Wednesday, September 02, 2015

First Drafts - The Fat and Skinny of It

I just finished the first draft of THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES, the second book in my SEVENTH DAUGHTER series. To celebrate, I thought I'd share my process, just in case someone finds what I do useful.

1. I use the Blake Snyder "Beat Sheet" to outline my novel, from his book SAVE THE CAT.

2. I write the first scene; what the main character wants, what is keeping them from getting what they want, their attempt to overcome the obstacle, and how they are thwarted from their goal (most of the time they are thwarted, once in a while I let them get what they want). I follow the scene with the hook for the next chapter, always related to the scene I just wrote. That's Chapter One. The next scene and hook is Chapter Two, etc., etc., until the book is done.

2. I don't worry about the words at all. Once in a great while I will write out part of a scene the way it will be in the final draft, but most of the time the writing is absolutely awful, filled with showing instead of telling.

3. I cut what doesn't work. If a scene doesn't move the plot forward, it's gone.

Essentially I end up with a super chubby outline. I don't write from my first draft. I open a new document and only refer to the first draft as I write out each chapter, scene by scene.

My first draft helps me by nailing down the plot, sub-plots, and character development, all the difficult stuff, before I am actually writing. This keeps me from wasting time going down rabbit holes. The first draft I just finished is only 17,000 words, but when shown instead of told, it will easily end up at 70,000 - 80,000 words, perfect for my YA series.

What do your first drafts look like? Do you create a skeleton to build on, or a bloated monster you have to to cut?

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