Friday, April 29, 2022

Zoom to a first draft of your novel (abbreviated) in under a week: Write a Zoom Draft

                                         ZOOM DRAFT

First, the disclaimer: This method is a work in progress so I haven't gone all the way through the process of revising a novel yet. I will keep you posted on how long the next step takes. My second point is that some may say I'm just talking about an outline. That is in a sense true EXCEPT I will say that I never have been able to outline my novels. I began writing novels with absolutely no outline. In the past few years I've managed a page of outline when I start a novel an then outlining as I go along, which is some combination of coming up with potential plot points based on what I've written and the kinds of plots I'm writing, adding to character sketches, and doing world building based on the world I seem to be creating in my draft.

OK so let me describe this new process, writing what I'm calling a Zoom draft. This comes from the fact that I cannot outline but that my first draft often goes all over the place as I pants my way through a story. It's a discovery draft and I, well, discover. So what happens is I always seem to have to rewrite huge chunks of it, which leads to major changes through-out the story. I don't like this. It seems a waste. However, I am a fairly fast writer and a first draft does get me into the world and characters and story so I have kept on with this method. I can write a first draft in less than two months but not that much less. Then I spend another two, sometimes three in revision.

It's not a bad method but I feel like I waste a lot of time and go the wrong way a lot in my first draft. The reason revision takes me so long is because I am actually rewriting a lot of it. That's much more than revision. Throw away a chunk and write a new chunk is a longer process.

So I was playing around starting a novel and thinking about the months I would spend on getting the story together and I thought what if I just tried to write the story and didn't worry about development of characters or world so much and focused on pushing through the story without a lot of details. What if I did a general draft. More than an outline. I'd write out chapters, bits of whatever would be in the chapter in terms of description and narrative and especially dialogue between characters. I would also write anything that I thought might add to my understanding of the chapter. I wouldn't sweat forcing myself to try to figure out places where I got stuck. I'd just write myself a note about what might happen and go on.

It took me four days to write one first draft of about 10,000 words. Then I tried another novel, this one second in a series, and it took me five days to write a draft of that novel, 12,000 words. Obviously, these are a fraction of what these novels will be BUT I write from beginning to end. That, I think, is essential.

Now I am revising the second novel, the one I need to get out next. I'm in my second day and it seems like I"m not having to rewrite so much as add to what's already in the chapter. But even if I do have to rewrite later as a I go along, it only took me five days to get this rough draft out. And because it only took me five days maybe it will be more cohesive than my other first drafts. As I was writing it, I felt like I had more control, more narrative momentum.

 It seems to be working. 

MORE when I have written MORE but for me, for the kind of writer I am, a pantser whose first draft always sucks and someone who would like to up my output, this seems to be working.  (To Be Continued)


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