I’m 10,000 words into my first draft, so thought I’d do a quick report about how things are going. I’m using a self-developed method for writing, which is probably pretty similar to what other writers use. I’ve tried copying other people’s methods for planning and plotting, and I’ve very much come to the conclusion that people’s minds work differently, and that you have to develop a way that works for you. Still, I’d be really interested to hear from people who have different ways of writing a first draft.
My method is to have a series of brief statements which mean something to me: for example
Leaves house – gets on bus – meets flower lady – buys flower – gets off at wrong stop – gets to shop – wallet missing – walks home – gives flower to wife.
That’s just an example, as I am writing an action-packed science fiction war epic, and there aren’t any flower ladies, buses or missing wallets in my story yet.
With this briefest of outlines at the head of my page, I then extemporise the scene, “David left the house, slamming the thick oak door behind him and striding up the path…” whatever.
Generally speaking, the first two or three hundred words of this are murder, and I keep checking the word count to see if I’m getting anywhere near my 2000 a day quota. After that, some magic switch gets hit, and I start becoming interested in what I’m writing, and it tends to flow.
There’s usually a lull around 1000 words or so, and my enthusiasm dampens. If I can’t really see where I’m going next, or really don’t feel like writing this section now, I’ll leave a note [description of 19th Century public transport system in San Francisco here] for myself to fill in later. Sometimes when I’m writing forward, I’ll have a thought about something I needed to put in earlier, but forgot to. So my character might get to the dry cleaners to drop off his suit, but I made no mention of that before he left the house, so if I’m flowing forward quite well, I simply pop back and leave a comment to fill this in later. Or if I’m finding going forward quite hard going, I’ll go back and write that bit there and then and flesh it out whilst (hopefully) my brain bubbles away with ideas for what happens later on.
What I’m learning is that the more detailed the plan is for writing, the more cues I have and the easier it is to press on. Its a lot easier to write a section from
Leaves house – misses bus – angry – runs to work – trips over into puddle – sees friend etc.
Goes to work.
Because I have to write, and make stuff up at the same time, which like walking and chewing gum, is a skill I haven’t learned yet. If you’re reading this, and you’re a writer, please let me know which methods have worked for you, as I’d be fascinated to learn. I’ll do my next post at 20k, I guess. Onward.