Drafting

I love drafting. Love, love, love. If I could, I would just draft and hand over my writing and let someone else fix it. Because while I know that edits are the most important part, they are not my favorite.

But here’s what I’ve come to understand: not all books draft the same. And maybe that’s super obvious to all of you, but totally not to me.

My first book I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2011. I had an idea of what was going to happen, I’d been thinking about it for a while. I wrote as much as I could, as often as I could, for a month. And I certainly passed 50,000 words but it wasn’t complete. There were missing scenes here and there and places where I wasn’t sure exactly even what was missing. I didn’t write it in order, I wrote whatever scene I could write when I had time to write. Didn’t feel motivated? Wrote a scene I had been daydreaming about. Felt motivated? Forced myself to write a less obvious scene.

I started dreaming of Book Two (Finn & Ellie’s story) when I was on maternity leave after my third child was born, one year later. For that one, I mostly wrote in order, but then I skipped to the end. And because I was writing while caring for a tiny tot and then later while back at work, I wrote when I could over ten months. That manuscript still has a whole chunk missing from about the 60% point to the 80% point. And I only mostly know what will go there.

And then came Book Three, Sarah’s story. Sarah’s story I had been thinking about since I finished book 1. I beat sheeted it (a screenwriting technique). I committed to two things when writing it: I would write it all in November for NaNoWriMo 2013 and I would write it beginning to end. And I did both of those things. And I freaking loved it. I loved writing Sarah’s story, as much as it tore me apart. (Hopefully one day you’ll all read it and understand why.) But to me, it drafted perfectly. Chapter one to chapter lots and lots (can’t remember). In order. I actually stopped during the last week in November because I was already done.

And now we come to this novel, Book Four, my FebNo project (aka NaNoWriMo in Feb!). You’d think because the drafting was so easy with Sarah’s story that I would go right back to that for Zeke and Abby’s story. But for some reason, I can’t. I want to, but this book won’t write that way. I’m back to Finn & Ellie — back to writing it out of sequence, whatever scene I can get down. It’s a very different book, and while I’m still committed to writing it in a month (because I’m super competitive and I said I would) and I did beat sheet it, it’s a whole different process to get the story on the paper.

Which is my lesson. Each book drafts differently. Maybe it’s how well I know the characters, or how well I know the plot. Or maybe it’s just how much strength I have going in. But I’m kind of fine with that. As long as the books get written.

And as long as I commit to editing them. Because that’s even more important.

How do you write your books? Out of order or in order? In short bursts or over many months?

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