Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Get ready … get set … Re-draft!

14 Comments

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to challenge myself to a self-imposed NaNoWriMo (50k words in 30 days) this month (yes, I know the “official” NaNo month is November, but I need to get my butt in gear NOW). I’ve learned the best way for me to get a draft done (at least at this point in my writing journey) is to do a NaNo. I’ve got an Excel spreadsheet for daily word counts and everything!

I’ve been procrastinating long enough. Technically, this WIP isn’t even a new project; I wrote it the first time during another self-imposed NaNo this past March. So, even though technically this isn’t a first draft, I’ve made enough changes to the plot that I may as well start over.

That’s another thing I’ve learned: the process of drafting–writing with a muzzle on my internal editor–helps me work out the plot. Or work out the kinks in the plot. Or see what’s wrong with the plot. All of the above.

So, I’ve brainstormed changes to the plot, and of course I won’t know if those will work until I actually start drafting. Or is it re-drafting? For my past few projects, I’ve ended up writing two “first drafts”: one that helps me see what works and what doesn’t in the original plot, and one that takes those discoveries and uses them to build from scratch again.

It’d be like drawing out plans for a shed or tiny house you want to use as a writing space, like a detached writing office. You dream up the perfect size, imagine it in the perfect location, then get out the ol’ ruler and graph paper to draw it out. Maybe even use cutouts of a desk, chair, shelves, dog bed, cat pillow, whatever. You figure out how much wood you’ll need, pick out paint and siding and even a cool window or two.

Let’s assume you’re handy enough to give it a good go. So you start framing your spiffy new writer cave according to your hand-drawn plan. The floor is the easy part–it’s a rectangle. Can’t get much simpler than that.

Okay. You’ve got your base floor done, so now for the walls. Once you’ve got the framing finished, you can see the skeleton of your project. With the walls up, you can start to see how it’ll look.

Now finish the walls, put on the roof (not shingles yet), and cut holes in the walls for the windows. You’ve got plywood on the outside, sheathing on the roof, and places to put windows.

Wait. That’s one’s not quite in the right spot. Hmm. Don’t forget to measure how far over you moved the door. And make sure to check the angle of the roof–you don’t want it to leak.

Er. Yeah. Hmm. Looks kinda wonky. That wall’s not quite square. And oops, the roof angle is wrong. All wrong. You’ll have to pull that off and redo it. And that window’s in the wrong spot–you’ll have to take that wall down and redo it. Oh, but that means the desk won’t be able to go where you wanted, you’ll have to shift it over. Wait, then the built-in shelves will have to be shorter. Oh, and a skylight. That’d be awesome.

Ugh. So you go back to your plans, erase and redraw to take into account what you’ve learned the first round. Then, you disassemble everything except the floor. Wait, gotta do that too–it needs to be six inches wider.

And so you start over. Re-draft. Except now when you get to the point where all the walls are up, the roof is sheathed, and the windows are cut, it looks much better. Oh, and don’t forget the skylight. Wait, maybe not a skylight.

Once it’s “drafted”, you can refine it, paint it, add shingles, a nice door, lights, etc. Eventually, you’ll have a nice little writing cave.

Kinda like the writing process. First plan, then draft. Then maybe you can work with the draft, but maybe it makes more sense to start over. Or take it down to the floor and try again, because you figured out what doesn’t work.

It’s a process, and each time I use it, I learn a little more about what works for me. Each time I try something a little bit different to see if it makes the process more effective.

Anyway. Enjoy the last hurrah of summer vacation this weekend. I’ll be writing. Will you?

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Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

14 thoughts on “Get ready … get set … Re-draft!

  1. Yeah. I’m doing the same, Julie. Nano for the next 4 months! Two days down! Ha ha. I do think these internal commitments are helpful, they keep us motivated and help cut out the distractions – like family members. Great analogy and cute little writing house. I was hoping it was yours. I have a wonderful writing room, but I need to clear out the bats (and clean up the bat poop). Happy Writing, my friend. I’m excited for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That would make a cute little writing cave. No many distractions likely in there. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kudos to you for doing a self-imposed Nano. I’ll be doing my first Nano in November. I’ve written a novel before with no plotting work beforehand and it was so flawed, I couldn’t fix the plot problems it had no matter how much revising I did. I tried again with a different story and it was the same. So this time, I decided to take the writing advice of a friend and “plot the hell out of it” and then do a quick-write for the first draft. So I’m plotting right now…character interviews, plot-boards and what-not. And I’ll start drafting in November. Hopefully I’ll feel better about what comes out if it.

    Thanks for sharing your own strategy. It’s always interesting to hear what works for other writers. And I love your little house analogy.

    Best of luck in your new draft. I’ll be looking forward to updates on your progress šŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kudos to you, Lonna! Good luck at NaNo in November. And plotting does help, even if it’s just free-writing through the major scenes. I usually take a month before NaNo to outline my project. What I end up with often doesn’t follow the outline completely, because characters like to take the reins once they get going šŸ™‚ This story is giving me some fits because it doesn’t want to play nice in my plotting strategy, so I think I’m going to end up with a partial plot, partial “pants” run. Or something. Once I’ve got it drafted, I can work on revising it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Lonna! Good luck to you on plotting for NaNo šŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Julie, I hope your house of words is coming along well – I love this analogy and the idea of correcting a wonky wall, adding something extra here and there! Oh yes, a skylight is a must! Have a brilliant time with your self-imposed NaNoMo and I’m sure all your hard work of preparation beforehand will pay off. With school back and normal routine in place I’m in process of trying to get my first book edited and formatted…scary and exciting! šŸ˜€šŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika! And yes, the chaos that comes with school starting again helps set up a routine, though with my daughter on the tennis team, the routine will be in flux through the end of the season in October. Good luck with editing and formatting! Lots of work but a great payoff šŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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