Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting to The End - That First Draft


Wow!  What happened to Monday and Tuesday?  LIFE
One of the easiest things about writing is the ability to give up.  I've done it.  Everyone has done it.  But what does giving up get you?  Not a whole lot.

This time--THIS TIME--and every time after, giving up will not be accepted.  Why?  Because you can do it!  With a little help and some tips and tricks, you, too can finish that book!

What does it take to write that first draft?  Writing it!

Whether you're a panster or a plotter, the writing must happen.  We all obsess about our every word.  Why?  Because we want our writing to be perfect.  But nothing and no one are perfect.  Still, we strive to do our best.

One of the biggest things most successful writers will tell you is to Just Write.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  It isn't, but we can make it easier.

Many successful writers will say that the key is to write a fast first draft.  I agree with that.  But what, exactly, does that mean?  It means No Editing.  That's right.  You don't write a few pages, then go back to pick it apart and polish it to what will probably be changed later.

If panic sets in at the mere mention of No Editing, take a deep breath.  There are ways to make that first draft with no editing easier.

  1. Have a fairly solid idea of where your story is going.  Does this mean you have to plot the entire story?  Not necessarily.  It depends on what works best for you.  Simply put, have an idea of your opening, an inciting incident that shows the conflict of the two characters (hero and heroine in a romance), the mid-point aka main turning point, the black moment (when all seems lost), and the resolution aka the happily ever after in a romance.  Cooking Up a Story
  2. Know your characters' GMCs.  If you don't know what GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict), you can do a search on the Internet.  There's an abundance of information out there to help you.  A quick explanation is Goal (what the character wants), Motivation (why the character wants the goal), and Conflict (what's keeping the character from reaching his/her goal).  Each main character should have his or her own GMC.  Check out my blog on Building Characters and blogs and articles by others.
  3. Do as much research as you can pre-writing.  Whether contemporary, historical, or even futuristic/dystopian/other, they all take some research.  You want to write a cowboy book, a doctor book, or even a setting you're unfamiliar with?  Research.  Again, the Internet is a wonderful tool for this and many other things.  Use it.  Talk to people who can help.  You'll find more than you need, but that's okay.  What you don't need you may need with another book.
  4. Plan and use your writing schedule.  Set aside time to write every day and also set a daily goal for pages or words to be written.  And stick to it!  Check out my 4-part blog series on Goal Setting for some ideas.
  5. Think about what you're going to write before your fingers touch the keyboard.  In whose POV will the scene be?  What is going to happen in a scene? If it helps, instead of writing one scene and stopping for the day, stop in the middle of a scene--especially an exciting or tense point--and start there the next day.  Once you're in the scene, writing it, let the moment and the characters carry you along.
  6. If you find yourself stuck...  Don't panic.  It's amazing what our subconscious does for us.  Try sleeping on the problem.  Brainstorm with a writer friend or group of writer friends.  We often get too close to our story and characters that we can't think "out of the box" or beyond our preconceived ideas.  If those things don't produce results, write whatever comes to mind. Don't worry that it isn't quite right, just get down the idea.  But don't edit now!  Remember, we're on the No Editing plan.  Write a note (sticky notes work well), along with the page # and chapter/scene if needed, and refer to it later, after the first draft is finished. Or highlight that section and go back when you've finished the first draft.
  7. Write it down!  Ideas come to us at the strangest times.  Have a notebook where you can write them down.  Put a notebook in your car, your purse, or wherever you can grab it.  While driving, DO NOT write notes.  This is where a small voice recorder can really come in handy!
Once you have that first draft written, it's time to put it away.  Let it sit for a while, if possible, and work on something new or whatever it takes to get you away from the story.  Once you've had some distance, go back and start editing.  That's the time to refer to those notes and make changes.

Now that your first draft is finished, feel proud of your accomplishment.  Many people want and hope to write a book, but a large percentage of those people never do.  You have!
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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