The Hybrid Method: Drafting part 1


screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-8-16-46-pmToday I’m going to discuss how I draft.

As I mentioned before I always begin with a rough event list and basic character list. One thing I add at the actual drafting stage is what I call a running character bio. I add information to this as I reveal it in the plot. I almost never write a character bio before I begin drafting, unless the backstory is crucial to the story, the Protagonist/Antagonist are ones that usually start with a loosely sketched backstory.
This is a major area of discovery/pantsing for me. I love to unwrap my characters over the course of the story. I track these pieces in a bio so that I don’t forget any details that might be repeated and cause an inconsistency if changed.

I begin writing from a logical event point, a place where I can both draw in the reader, and push the character down the path toward the book’s culmination. My current novel, Runaway, begins when my character meets someone who helped her escape. This sets off a chain of events that catapults her further down the road. I am almost 10,000 words into the draft and so far everything is going well.

However, 8,000 of those words happened only AFTER I revised my original story event sequence. I re-wrote the entire event sequence and every event I had planned, because the characters I had created and the opening I gave them promised a very different story from the one I had planned.

The promises I made in that opening would have been unfulfilled had I continued with the original plan.
So I threw it out.

This is a feature, not a bug in my process.

I learned to do this when it took me a year to realize that I had not fulfilled my promise to my readers in my last completed book, a problem I did not notice because I had stuck stubbornly to my plan. That discovery led to the deletion of 40,000 words and writing an additional 60,000 to fix and fulfill the promises. I learned my lesson. Focus on the promises and build a logical plot from there.

The moral here is that my draft went from a Fantasy Adventure novel with a side romance plot, to a Fantasy Adventure novel with a strong romance plot, it actually tows the border between Fantasy Adventure and Fantasy Romance at the moment. By choosing to revise the plan and write the story I wanted to tell I gave myself permission to not only write a better story, but to tell a more interesting and hopefully, compelling one.

The first draft in particular is usually messy and similar to this. I like to think of this stage as going to the idea quarry. The finished first draft will be my block of idea marble, from that I’ll construct the real work of art.

Next week I’ll talk about how I select that piece of marble (draft) from the idea quarry and what I do along the way to prevent it fracturing into a million pieces during my carving (revision) process.


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