Accountability, Etc: Daily Goals #24 (BONUS: my fast-drafting process!)

It’s Wednesday. It’s Wednesday. PITCH WARS MENTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE TOMORROW.

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eeeeeeeeeeee eee eee eeek

I NEED to write to distract myself from giddy excitement/butterflies in stomach/fear of impending rejection! Yesterday I did all right—let’s look at my goals and how they stacked up at the end of the day:

  • Write 3,000 words
    • Ok, 2500 isn’t the worst. I did finish Chapter 2! and threw in a flashback chapter for some more action at the beginning.
    • But today I want to start to catch up…!
    • I think while my partner is out of town over the weekend I’ll aim for 5-6k days.
  • Write Scene Weave + Chapter divisions, goddamnit, or you’ll freeze up about moving forward
    • I ONLY BARELY STARTED AND I REALLY NEED TO FINISH THIS TODAY
  • Unpack for fuck’s sake
    • Did this at last! yay!

I’m a bit mad at myself that I didn’t make more progress on the Scene Weave/Chapter divisions, because that step is key to my hideously high-octane fast-drafting process. My first draft MO is putting in a lot of work up front before I even write the first chapter–that way I can rip through the material I’ve outlined/sketched.

Hey, I have an idea… wanna take a look at my WIP first draft process?

What am I saying? Writers are nosy folk. Of course you wanna creep on my process.

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aw yis

 

TADA, SYLVIA’S PRETTY DAMN GOOD FIRST DRAFT PROCESS

  •  Idea spark!
    • I write down a plot bunny and, if it’s a particularly powerful one, create a new Scrivener document
  • Gestation
    • I spend the next 3 weeks-3mo-sometimes a year scribbling down things that occur to me. Scenes, dialogue, plot points that excite me, etc. I put everything in documents I call notedumps, with every entry dated so I know what information is most “canon”/current
    • This is usually going on while I’m fast drafting or editing another project, because I have serious fidelity problems with WIPs
  • Outlining
    • I take my main characters and most engaging plot points from my weeks or months of notedumping and begin to hammer them into novel-shape using Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants! and John Truby’s Anatomy of Story
      • Literally Hawker’s book is LIFE CHANGING. No matter if you’re a pantser looking to convert or a plotter looking for new strategies, I highly recommend it.
    • This stage can take an afternoon or three months, depending on the project. My Pitch Wars manuscript (The Demon King) took a day to outline back in December. My current WIP, Iron Queen, took… Jesus. Ages. It has more POV characters and convoluted storylines, so that’s to be expected, but… yeah. It took some time to tease the right weaknesses, desires, and needs out of my two main POV characters. BUT NOW I’VE GOT ‘EM, MUAHAHA.
  • Scene Weave
    • This is where I take my outline and make a chronological list of every. Single. Damn. Thing. that happens in my project, beginning to end. No gaps allowed.
    • Here I have the opportunity to analyze the pacing and character development from a bird’s eye view–if something is amiss, if I need to remove a scene or combine it with another, I think it’s best to do so now before I get bogged down in thousands of words and lose sight of the forest for the trees.
      • (That happens often help)
    • This is what I’m struggling with today. It usually takes a long day.
  • Once Upon a Time/Stage Direction Draft
    • I like having two screens open in Scrivener at any given time, so in this stage I have my Scene Weave open on one side and a new, pretty, blank page open on the other side.
    • Then I write “Once upon a time…” which is, like, my magic spell for allowing myself to sketch the roughest of the rough drafts.
    • I call this rough writing “stage directions.” It’s a mix of dialogue, blocking, and “he does this, then she thinks this, then they go here” prose that reads something like this:

      Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 9.25.23 AM.png
      THIS IS AN ACTUAL EXCEPT FROM MY CURRENT DRAFT PLS BE NICE
    • *cringes* Pretty rough, I know. But what I do in this stage is vitally important for me. Basically, I take every single scene from the Scene Weave and pad it out with the pages and pages of notes, world-building, and dialogue from my months of Gestation-stage notedumps. That way, when I’m actually trying to write sort of nicely, I don’t have to slow myself down by stopping and thinking “damnit, where did I put that sketched scene of the intro to Gazanfer?”–because it’ll already be there, incorporated into the stage directions.
    • Last summer, my final Once Upon A Time document ended up being about 10,000 words for a 150,000 word project. But it can vary. My guess is that because I’m taking material from old drafts of Iron Queen and slipping it into my Once Upon A Time doc along with stage directions, it’ll be pretty long this time around.
  • Chapter Divisions
    • My Once Upon A Time draft ends up feeling like a long patchwork quilt of scenes poached from old drafts, newly sketched scenes, and dialogue.
    • The next step is to read through the whole thing and make notes about where I want each chapter to begin and end. I take each of these chunks and copy-paste them into documents of their own, in chronological order.
    • These are my chapter rough drafts. Because of these, every morning when I sit down to write, I have a road map, a plan, a scene to blast through right from the get-go. No time for writer’s block because I have a plan.
    • My Scrivener sidebar ends up looking something like this:Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 9.35.46 AM.png
  • On your marks, get set… SPRINT
    • AT LAST.  I set up my timers, get settled in, and blast through fast drafting.
    • Basically, I take the “stage directions” prose that I showed you above and turn it into actual writing, filling in gaps and adding/editing dialogue where need be.
    • I carve through the project chapter by chapter until I reach the end.
  • Cry, celebrate, ice your poor battered typing hands. Also wine.
    • YAY, CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS STEP

The result of all this? A pretty damn clean first draft with solid momentum and strong character arcs building up to one hell of a cliffhanger… on the first try.

I highly recommend this method if you, like me, have limited writing time during the year. I gestate/outline/notedump all school year long and then binge write my first drafts in the summer or during winter break when I don’t have classes (or during NaNoWriMo!). It’s worked pretty well for me thus far!

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So, long story short, today’s top priority is:

  • Scene Weave + Once Upon A Time + Chapter Divisions, because if I don’t get these done I will get mired down, and, worst case scenario, ruin the momentum of fast-drafting this WIP

Lower priority:

  • 3,000 words/Chapter 3 – aw yis I’m looking forward to this because it’s a nice and spooky chapter with witches and oracle bones

 

That’s it! *cracks knuckles* Let’s get Scene Weaving and dividing my Once Upon a Time Draft into chapters!

xo sp

 

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