Friday, July 24, 2009

The first draft blues

Tip of the day: The internet can make it really hard to write. If you have a Mac, consider downloading macfreedom which will disconnect your computer from the internet for a specified period of time so you can write without that distraction.

So, I've got the first draft blues. I'm at that halfway mark where you start to question everything and wonder how in the heck you're ever going to get to the end, and not only get to the end, but do so with a plot that makes sense, interesting and real characters, and on and on.

The middle is hard, no doubt about it. So I was thrilled to find THIS POST by Justine Larbelestier titled "How to Write a Novel." The best part of the post? The idea that when you get halfway into your novel, you create a spreadsheet to help you see what you have so far. She shows us an example, but also says we can add columns that let us use symbols - is it an action chapter, is it a dialogue chapter, is it a sitting-around-thinking chapter? It gives you a visual of what your book looks like, so you can see how much action you have, and if you don't have a lot, you know you better be stepping it up!

I think we can each take this idea and make it our own. Want to keep track of how often a secondary character shows up? Make a column and check a box when he/she appears in a chapter. Want to keep track of sensory details? Make a column for that, and see where you need more. The possibilities are endless!

I also love the idea that once the spreadsheet is created, from now on, when you finish a chapter, you add the chapter to the spreadsheet! I am one who does well with little rewards along the way, so I think this will work well for me.

I'm going to go and make my spreadsheet right now. I'll report back and let you know if it's helped me and how my word count is going next week.

Those of you working on first drafts right now, how's it going? Any tips you'd like to share?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Kate Fall said...

First drafts are exhausting! I need to stay on top of my sleep when I do them. I'm kind of glad I'm in revision mode this summer instead. Let us know how your progress is progressing, Lisa!

Elana Johnson said...

First, I have a mac, and I am going to download that thing to keep me off the internet.

Second, what a great idea! So many times when I'm writing a first draft, I forget about things I've put in and need to tie up. I'm not the greatest at outlining and organizing, and I think making a spreadsheet will really help!

Emily Marshall said...

Interesting idea!!! I like this, because I love spreadsheets for everything.

Kristina Springer said...

Oooh-- the spread sheet sounds interesting. I'm going to have to check this out!

Casey Something said...

If someone doesn't have a spreadsheet software, they can use Google Docs for free, which has has a spreadsheet program.

Casey Something said...

And yes, middles SUCK. : ) I feel your blues.

Lisa Schroeder said...

I'm LOVING the spreadsheet thing, I have to tell you!

Christina Farley said...

First drafts are a bleary mess to me. But after my writing class, I've fallen in love with my character/plot spreadsheet. Basically, I grid all the characters across the top and then mark when they enter a chapter and their purpose. It gives me a good feel for who is doing what and when.