Saturday, March 23, 2013

Writing Method #7: 30 Day Draft

Writing Method #7: 30 Day Draft

     After chronicling the major writing methods out there (Linear, Snowflake, Kiser, Marshall Plan, Outlines, and Note-cards), I feel I covered most of them. But yesterday, I came across a book I bought back in 2005, called, "First Draft in 30 Days" by Karen S. Wiesner and I feel an examination of the subject fits in well in this series.  I won't go into as much detail in this blog as I did the others in the series because I don't want to infringe on the copyright of this author or her book, but I did want to address the notion of writing the entire first draft of a novel in 30 days.

     A friend and I were discussing procrastination and how long it takes to write a book sometimes when, as author, you take your time pushing out 1000 words a day, so when I first read the title of the book I envisioned that it was about actually writing the whole book in 30 days and the concept of writing an entire novel draft in just 30 days is something I find a bit mind-boggling. That is, after all, 2166 words a day to get 65,000 (a normal draft amount) done in 30 days. As someone who struggles to do 1000 a day (2000-3000 a day on a weekend), I think if I had to bang out 2166 or more every day after work, I would start to just write gibberish to make my word count. No, on second thought, it wouldn't be gibberish, but it wouldn't be stunning or moving the plot forward in any considerable way. So I was intrigued to see what Wiesner writes in "First Draft in 30 Days."

     Upon reading, I see that Wiesner doesn't advocate actually writing the book itself in 30 days, but writing the outline and character sketches in 30 days. That's a different concept than the title alluded to, for me, but I continued reading.  Wiesner starts out describing the goals she plans to visit. In a nutshell, it's:

1.)   Write the preliminary outline in 6 days;
2.)   Research the project in 7 days;
3.)   Write the story evolution in 2 days. Story evolution is described as outlining the main conflict and the story goals and completing character sketches;
4.)   Spend 9 days formatting the above outlines;
5.)   Spend 4 days evaluating the outlines;
6.)   Spend 2 days revising the outlines.

     In all, this pattern seems like a mix of general Outlining and the Snowflake or Marshall Plans.  I perceive a major limitation as being, as I've droned on about before, now that you've spend 30 days outlining the piece, you have 30 less days at your disposal to actually write it.  I do like that the outlining system Wiesner describes is more compact than others I've reviewed so that is a plus.

     One positive note that stood out to me from this book is the concept of brain-storming by creating mini-movies in the mind.  This resonated with me because all of my books and short stories (and proposed books and short stories) play out first in my mind like a movie, so I think this is a useful plot device. I also liked Wiesner's suggestions for overcoming writer's block.  She presents a series of 26 ideas, ten of which particularly appealed to me.  Two of them are to make a soundtrack for the current project and then to exercise or take a walk while listening to that soundtrack.  Interesting concept and I think it can help with creativity.  I, for one, hate to sit still for too long so moving about while listening to a "soundtrack" for the project in question seems like a fun, motivational concept.

     In the end, I would count this method as a variation on the Outline method I covered earlier, but I think the writer's block suggestion are a fun section of this book to peruse and consider.  Have you read it?  Did it work for you?


  1. I haven't it read, but I am a sucker for novel/story soundtracks. Whenever I start something new, I spend most of the first day just making playlists to fit my characters and the theme of the project. Both end up changing throughout the project but it's nice to have the "go to" music to get me, and keep me, in the mood of whatever I'm writing.

  2. I heard that life would be cooler with a soundtrack too! LOL I do love to match music to a story and make that "movie in the mind" connection. I've read that Quentin Tarantino does that as well so it's certainly a good idea.