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How to Write a Novel in Six Months, Week 12 Drafting Update: Appreciating Plot and an Awful First Draft
Progress on the novel this week was steady and relatively pain free. I’m starting to wonder how interesting these posts will be for the next several weeks as I get into the groove of writint the first draft of my novel. However, I’ll continue to keep you posted on my progress, if only to keep myself going!
The Joy of Scene Design I spent some time last week setting up my scenes a little better. I’m finding that the more I have thought through the mechanics of the scene, the easier the words flow onto the page. I remember when I first started writing several years ago and I would share work with a critique group. I was often asked what the purpose of a certain scene was. Purpose? I didn’t know. The purpose then was just for me to get whatever was in my head out onto the page. Now I realize that each and every paragraph, sentence, and word needs to be leading somewhere. That’s not to say I don’t go off onto tangents once in a while (I call that ‘characterization’.) But most of the time, the things we write need to serve a purpose. Otherwise, why should the reader waste her time?
Permission to Write Junk I love, love, love Anne Lamott. Her book on writing, , is something of a creative manifesto adopted by many writers. In it she encourages writers to free themselves with the permission to write a really ‘shitty first draft’. She also makes a vivid point about focus in writing by instructing us to block out everything else except for that which you are writing about right now. She tells us to picture our story through a 2 inch by 2 inch picture frame and concentrate on writing only that much of the story at time. Bird by Bird
All the planning and plotting have helped me to write my story in two inch square increments so far. However, somehow I’d forgotten the part about not striving for a good first draft. That is, until a friend reminded me. She said that she was following Lamott’s advice to write an awful first draft, but feared she may be overindulging herself! That was my new goal: get over myself and get the words down. Sometimes if one portion of a scene is difficult to get right, I let myself get stuck. Instead, I’m really working toward moving on and leaving the messy bits for later. This of course becomes a balancing act. If I’m not careful I’ll just skip all the way to the end! Because really, the whole process can be somewhat ugly and ever so humbling!