Friday, March 25, 2005

More on First Draft in 30 Days.

I finished reading the book yesterday, with the chapter on Career Planning. As with the rest of the book, it was really helpful. I also created some more templates in WWP, though some of them don't work as well as others - WWP doesn't really allow for tables. But that's ok - I can work around that *g*.

In going over my synopsis again I identified several scenes that need to either be expanded or included, so I will apply the FD method to them. Should be fun! I'm also going to go through my synopsis and "tag" my plot threads. Not quite the same as doing it in the formatted outline, but still a useful exercise.

I'd like to mention one other thing today. Karen herself. Since first learning about this book, I've been emailing with her. She has generously answered my questions and given me pointers. Now some cynics will say she's just trying to sell the book. Phooey, I say. I'd already ordered it when I wrote to her the first time. Like so many writers, she's eager to share something that has worked for her with her fellow writers. I have to say I was concerned when I read in her updated FAQ that someone has posted a review at Amazon claiming the title of the book is misleading. Karen's answer addresses each point, but I would like to add my .02 to this.

Never, while reading the book, did I EVER think I would come out with a FULL first draft of the novel. The term is used loosely, I admit, but there is no way you can read this book withOUT understanding how Karen is defining "first draft". I also admit I've not yet put the method to work in its full sense, but even without doing so I can see how a complete outline such as her method helps a writer to build will be of immense use and speed up the writing process. Last year while writing the ms I'm currently editing, I found that just by planning several scenes ahead (using WriteWayPro's scene templates), I completed it far more quickly than either of my previous mss. There is no doubt in my mind that if this method appeals to you and you work through it, you will have something that may not be a traditional first draft, but something that serves a similar process. In fact, looking back at the first draft of my first completed ms, it was almost useless as I'd written it in almost complete ignorance - it had been a release for the tension I felt while working at a job I hated and because I read a great deal, I wrote on instinct, not knowledge of all the complexities that go into a work of commercial fiction.

The negative review also says that Karen all but ignores any genre but the crime/suspense one. Again, this is rubbish (IMHO). Yes, she does mention that genre more, but makes it clear that all aspects of the method and its worksheets can be applied to any form of fiction. And mentions the romance one specifically. Though as historical writer, I did get a giggle out of asking my female characters about their jobs and how they felt about cigarettes and drugs, but when I really THOUGHT about it, there's no reason that I couldn't. After all, people did smoke tobacco in the 18th century! In fact, I'm pretty certain Maria Thins in Girl with a Pearl Earring smokes.

Throughout the book, Karen emphasizes the fact that this system is fully adaptable - NOTHING is written in stone. She is merely providing a framework for you and it's up to you how rigidly you want to adhere to it. The introduction includes all the information you need about how she defines a "first draft". Interested, but still not certain you want to commit to the book? You don't have to, because Karen has included the intro on her website as a FREE download in the very safe .pdf format. As a result, I KNEW what I was getting when I ordered the book, because I took the time to download and READ this introduction.

In fact, I would recommend everyone do this, because from it you should be (note I'm not saying will be) able to tell if this method is something that will work for you. As with any how-to book in the writing genre, it won't appeal to everyone, but I'm betting it will be helpful to many, many writers like me who plot and plan their mss.

That's it for today. I'll let you know how tagging my plot threads goes :-)


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