Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Big Pile of Words

Confession #1: I am a plotter. Before I begin a new novel, I write a list of events, emotions and hooks that will go in each chapter. 

Confession #2: I don’t always stick to the outline. Sometimes I discover better directions. Other times those diversions need to be cut. This time, I started with the Beat Sheet from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat to pinpoint the major landmarks, then I filled in the outline from the beat sheet.  

Confession #3: Several chapters in my outline have nothing written in them. 

Confession #4: I started writing anyway. 

The first draft is when I get to know my characters, hear their voices, and discover what bothers, excites, frightens and delights them. I can only do that by writing. For the first draft, I rake up a big pile of words without worrying whether any given scene or character is essential. Later, I’ll analyze the conglomeration and figure out what stays, what goes and what needs to be changed. 

Many writers worry about how bad their first drafts seem to be. A manuscript can’t be fixed until it is written. Creating this big pile of words is not only useful work, it is essential.


Vicky Lorencen said...

That's a great perspective, Ann. (And I guess I'd better buy a new rake!)

Kristin Lenz said...

I have too many big piles of words that need a lot of help!