Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fast Draft--National Novel Writing Month

I think I've had a mental block on this issue. An if-I-play-dumb-it-won't-notice-me mentality. But I read something this morning at Romance Divas forum:

I wrote my first novel over a period of a year and a half. And it will never see the light of day, that's for sure. Trust me, it was so stale, I had to keep rereading it so I'd know where I was going with it. And that led to wanting to edit the crap on it before I could move forward.

I wrote the first draft of my second novel over a 6 week period. MUCH better. Because it was written in such a short period of time, it was much more coherent, and I was still excited about it and didn't forget where I was going.

I will always draft fast now. Editing and revisions take a lot longer, but that's where the story will come alive. But when I draft slowly, I lose the magic.

~Amanda Brice, author, dancer and lawyer

For some reason, that totally got me. Squinting at my computer in wonder, I considered each manuscript I'd started. Certain Suspicions, finished in one month but needing so many edits it was a year [at least] before I started something longer than a prompt [500 words or less]. Of course, I didn't know anything about writing then.

Since I know so much now [insert sarcastic tone], I wonder if I could successfully combine a Fast Draft with that dose of knowledge [and not call it internal editing]. Because isn't that the point of a Fast Draft? To lose all that internal editing--the very voice in your head telling you not to move forward until you've fixed it?

I want to, so badly, do a quick writing exercise like that but I REALLY like that, although not perfect, my manuscripts have become more readable. I do spend time editing as I write. It's almost impossible for me not to, but my revisions seem surmountable at the end. Like Amanda stated, I can enjoy the revisions for the creative quality they lend, yet after several weeks, i'm not being driven crazy by the tedium of what seems to be common mistakes. I.E. using words like that, just, and almost, or words such as was, or even the dreaded tellings of heard, saw, felt...

The editing is more reasonable but certainly not nonexistent. I'll forever be removing unnecessary punctuation, adding description, or fixing typos--that's a big one, though. I can not, have never been able to get past a typo without going back and fixing it. I use the shift key to start a sentence and because my Word is screwy, i'm often tabbing my paragraph starts. I'm thinking I might be a lost cause.

I really can't imagine getting it done.

But I think I'm going to try. Starting in November with the Novel in a Month.

That's my goal. Now I just have to figure the rules. Make sure I'm not breaking any.

What is your motivation in a Fast Draft?


  1. Hi, I'm trying it this month with the Romance Divas. Not having much luck, but at least its a goal. How is Fast Draft working for you?

  2. I pretty much never make the page goals that I set for myself when I Fast Draft, but I get a draft written a lot quicker than I would otherwise. I don't FORCE myself to write 20 pages in a day (in fact, I say 10). I try to do it, but if I don't make it, I don't make it. But the important thing is to keep it up until you get to THE END.

    Then I won't write on it...just edit. But I definitely cannot keep up that pace all year long. No f'ing way.

    But I do like drafting fast because it forces me to plot, plot, plot ahead of time (which is technically cheating for NaNo, but I don't care). If I have a good coherent detailed (and I'm talking 15 to 20 pages) synopsis BEFORE I start writing, then I can bang out the draft pretty easily because I already know where I'm going.

  3. Actually, Bethanne, plotting/planning isn't a NaNo crime. From the FAQ

    Does that mean I can't use an outline or notes?

    Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

    I'm doing the May WriMo at RD too. I was much better prepared this time after taking the first 3 days of Nov to plot last fall, I wasn't making that mistake again.

    The best thing I can suggest is have a plan (both for plot and writing schedule) and allow some cushion in your writing schedule for life to happen. No matter which month it is, something will happen to make that 1667 words a day an impossible task. From there, it can snowball!

  4. oh, only 1667? Hmm. that seems almost doable. NOt right now, but when I have everyone in my life expecting me to be at the computer writing...

    I do love to have a plan. I'm not much of a pantser...although I wrote that first one that way.

    So, i've got a couple of ideas I'm going to go hash out...after my revisions are done on this current wip.

  5. Hi,

    I've done NaNoWriMo twice now, and yes you kind of have to write fast and not look back. It's push push to the finish line.

    I learned last time with the help of the websites gizmos that I cruise at around a thousand words a day.

    Not bad I thought until I found out that Steven King write three times that fast. *Sigh*



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