Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another Good Writing Book


I went to the library the other day and like most writers I like reading "How to" books to get some ideas. I found a copy of First Draft in Thirty Days  by Karen S. Weisner. I didn't really care about a first draft in thirty days (NaNo cured me of that) but it looked like it had some pretty good organizational tips. I was not disappointed.

Weisner calls it the Thirty Day Method and breaks a monthly calendar down to days. What she refers to as a first draft is an outline. But it is so detailed and filled with enrichment that, yes, it will definitely sound like a first draft.

What I appreciated that helped me see what she was talking about is that she used an actual book (The Lovely Bones p.20) and used that work to do a character sketch using one of her worksheets. She continues using other novels as examples to emphasize worksheets throughout the book.

One of the hardest things for me is keeping track of subplots and giving my characters the extra things that give them depth. Organizing and working the way Weisner suggests has already been a real help in that area. The writer starts out doing the basics but as the days pass and the work progresses lots of rich details are added.

When covering plot she talks about understanding story threads, story goal, subplot threads, tension, release, black moment (climax), resolution, and after effects of resolution but she emphasizes:

 "Go into as much detail as possible on your plot sketch, but keep in mind that your first pass will be light on details. Don't worry. Over the next twenty-seven days, it will grow significantly."

With her method, she confidently states that revisions will be much easier because you revise the outline instead of the manuscript. It's an intriguing idea and I have come away with lots of good ideas to put into effect but whether I try the whole thirty day method is still debatable.

13 comments:

  1. It does sound like one good way to approach writing a book. We can try different "methods" and see which one works the best for us.

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  2. Sounds interesting... Thanks for letting us know about this book. :)

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  3. Ann, I agree. I'm pretty well set in my ways but I like checking out other books and ideas to help me make what I do a bit better.

    Andrea, I'm glad I found it while browsing the library bookshelves.

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  4. Thanks! I'll have to look into that one. I like the idea of having a practical example as the guide. And I liked the movie Lovely Bones.

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  5. I like the idea of tweaking the outline. Makes sense to me. Nowadays, I prefer to know as much as I can about where I'm going with my story line before I get there. That said, with the limited time I have available, I should get going on the outline I'm struggling with right now.

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  6. Thanks for the tip, Catherine. I've just reserved it from my library! And how is the new computer working out?

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  7. Sofia, Joy, I'm still learning a lot from the book and taking notes like mad.

    Anne, the computer is amazing and I'm still learning all the new things that come with the updated programs. I got some short fiction writing completed today and it felt good to be writing again :)

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  8. That's one reason I like outlining first and revising my outline. Of course, I still have revisions to do with a first draft, but hopefully not as many!

    This sounds like a good book. Wish I had time to read them all!

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  9. Aimee,you won't regret it.

    Laura, I know, there are so many out there that are really good and no time to find them or read them. I'm glad I stumbled on this one.

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  10. Thanks, Catherine! I'll have to check this one out. :-)

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  11. Catherine, I was just reading about this book yesterday on another site. I think I'll check my library for it tomorrow and compare it to the Snowflake method. :)

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  12. Shannon, you're welcome.

    Melissa, it is very different from the Snowflake Method but the results are pretty much the same. I've heard great things about the Snowflake method!

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