Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How I Write: Drafting

I am sort of at a loss about first drafts. Back when I wrote the first drafts of my story (and I really consider that there were more than just one first draft), writing was something I wanted to do and something I loved, but it was barely part of my life. I needed to force myself to write. And very little of those first words remain. Although those were the words that found my story.

Recently I saved two blog posts that seemed to be about this part of the process.  One was Laini Taylor, whose  post describes how she writes scenes to learn things about her characters and stories (Laini Taylor is also generous about her writing advice with a whole website called Not For Robots full of writing wisdom). She has to remind herself that this writing thing we do is a process of discovery and let herself write things that are not going to end up somewhere even if they are cool. Janice Hardy says every author can expect tangents in their drafts. She is revising a first draft now and says in each scene she has had to find the personal goal of the character and align the scene to fit that goal first and then find it's place in the premise goal. She writes of cutting chapter after chapter of her draft because it wasn’t serving the story but it was helping her discover other aspects of it.

I want to have the looseness and understanding of Laini so that I can write and discover the things to make my story rich and as real as possible.But, like Janice, I want to be able to keep the personal goal of my characters in line with the premise goal of my novel so that both my readers and myself can care about what is at stake. Here is a conflict worksheet that has been helping me to that end (in revision). It is a ton of questions and using them still is no guarantee that I still won’t go astray and write oodles of scenes that wind their way away from that goal.  But with the snowflake under my belt, a plot diagrammed in a nine point grid (see previous post) and the questions that will keep me aligned to the conflict, I figure I am good to go. And I will set out on drafting like a journey. Consulting my maps and compas, I can find my way. But if something interesting crosses my path I better explore that too.

But, that leaves schedule. Here’s my solution. Sign up for Tour de Writing. Sign up for Nanowrimo. Come here for The Practice Room. Take a class. Find some way that works to hold yourself accountable and then get to work and do it the way that makes the most sense to you. Write fast if that is what it takes. Make a collage if it takes that.

Oh, and just so you all know, Heather Kelly offered to host some late night (for her and me) Practice Rooms. See the schedule. There is one tonight at 10 EST and one on Friday.