Day 119 – Finished Writing on First Draft!

I hit a milestone yesterday that I didn’t quite realize until today: I finished writing the first draft!

Let me explain…

You see, with about eight minutes or so left in the writing session yesterday, I just stopped. I’d finished a scene, and I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go to next. I jotted down some notes about themes and symbolism and all that fun stuff, and then packed it all away when the buzzer rang.

I’ve hit walls in this novel before. To keep going, I’ve thrown in a bomb to blow things up a bit, or simply started to write new scenes. No biggie.

This time was different though. When I went back to it today, I realized I had nowhere else to go. I still don’t have an ending, and I’m not really sure where to take the characters from here.

Again, no biggie — I knew this time would come, especially when I started writing the vignettes almost a month ago. The plan was always to write until I was dry, and then start the Second Draft.

Well, that time has come.

Except that before I start that second draft, I’d planned* to do an official outline. As part of that, I wanted to do research on crafting story structure, since I don’t really know much about that. I bought Story Structure Demystified, an ebook by Larry Brooks, and started reading it for my hour today.

I must say, so far so good. It is really helping me give my novel structure (hence the name, I guess…!) by describing pretty much everything you need to do. By page XX this should happen, by page XX the hero should be doing this, by page XX there should be this conflict… etc. etc.

I know it sounds formulaic — I was against outlining for that very reason. But I’m starting to see that structure isn’t formula. As Larry puts it, all houses have walls, floors, and a roof, but not all houses are alike. Try building a house without them and see what happens!

There is a craft to structuring the novel and an art to writing it — you need both to sell your book.

So says Larry Brooks; I’m inclined to believe him.

In any case, the next several days will be devoted to learning more about structure and then applying what I learn to creating my own novel’s outline. (Still need an ending, but I’m getting closer — the outlining process will help me decide on that, I’m hoping…)

Then, it’s off to write the Second Draft…

In other news, I joined the KindleBoards today, a meeting place for Kindle authors and readers. Haven’t had much chance to explore it yet, but it sounds interesting…

~Graham

Novel Writing Totals

Hours Today: 1
Words Today: (Reading)
Hours Total: 79.5
Words Total: 107,604

*I mentioned way back on Day 29 that I was against outlines, mostly because I saw them as stifling creativity. Larry Brooks calls this “pantsing” which I described on Day 86. I’m still not against pantsing, to a certain degree. I’ll reflect on that more soon — I’ve almost got my mind wrapped around that one… However, I’ve come to see the need for planning out the plot points of a novel ahead of time.

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3 Responses to Day 119 – Finished Writing on First Draft!

  1. You planning to start using any of the novel/scriptwriting software when you get to the outline stage? Celtex? Scrivener (now in beta for Windows)? yWriter?

    Not being a fiction writer, I’ve never messed with specialized software – at least outside of the simple outliners built into most word processors.
    The Copywriter Underground’s most recent blog post: Planning to Become Famous Start Saving Your Eccentric Writer’s Gear Now…

    • Graham Strong says:

      Hey Tom,

      Great idea. I played with a couple here and there over the years, but it’s worth looking at again — Scrivener, you say… I’ll check it out!

      Right now I’m just using Word and One Note (which came with MS Office 2007). It’s working so far, but then I haven’t had to do much searching back to remember details. Bringing it all together will definitely be more complicated in later drafts.

      ~Graham

  2. Pingback: Day 120 – Water, Water, Everywhere… | Graham Strong's Novel Writing Blog

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