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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Behind the Scenes Part 2: Drafting

Welcome to Behind the Scenes, Part 2. As you know, Author Christopher Hopper and I are working on a new fantasy series called The Berinfell Prophecies. Book 1: Curse of the Spider King is finished and will be out in stores Oct. 15th, or so I was told most recently. Now, we're working on the second book in the series.

Today, we're going to look into the drafting process. In other words, now that we've got an outline, a blueprint of where we're going with the story, we need to write out our very first draft, the ROUGH draft. I need to emphasize rough because to many would-be authors try to skip steps in the writing process by being too careful during that first draft. We agonize over the right word or right name; we stare at one paragraph trying for the most righteous turn of the phrase; or perhaps we labor over dialogue to get it "just right." Can I lift a burden from your shoulders? Don't do it that way. You will only frustrate yourself and slow yourself down.

For the rough draft, you just need to get those ideas down. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, word choice, colorful verbs, etc. etc. {Gag} Just write. Think of it this way: Suppose you have 2 hours to write today. You can either take your outline and run with it, ignoring the impulse to agonize over "just the right word" and finish two hours later with seven pages of content. OR, you can try to draft, revise, edit, proofread, and redraft--ALL in one step. In the end you will have a beautiful piece of prose...perfect even. But, it'll be one paragraph. Hmmm...

Another thing to think about is the importance of creative momentum. Your mind is a complex thing. Story comes flowing out of it, one thought leading to another and then another. Sometimes, you have to write several pages before something really REALLY cool comes along. Suppose, however, you are stop-start, stop-starting all over the place, trying to make it perfect in one shot...you may never get to that great idea that's lurking around the corner…if you could just get past yourself and get to the next page of content.

For Christopher and I, coauthoring a book means we need to talk logistics: what scene are you going to do? Where do you see that falling in the narrative? See the below capture of our iChat.





Once we've figured out who's writing what scenes, we draft the scenes. Our "system," if you can call it that, is to each write our rough drafts of 2-3 chapters. Then, we send it to the other for revising. We give each other TOTAL permission to make any changes we want--without using the "Track Changes" feature. In this way, we develop "OUR" voice rather than his and mine. After we revise the other's scenes, we send them back to the original author for "final" revisions. During this time, the original author may change some things back or alter things additionally. To us, it just doesn't matter. It can't matter. See below for an example of a section of Christopher's writing that I've "purple penned." I like to lay down on the bed with hard copies of the work and go to town on it with pen. Then, I hit the computer and make my changes.


See below two iChat conversations between Christopher and I. These are actually well prior to Spider King. Christopher was working on Book 3 of the White Lion Chronicles: Athera's Dawn and I was working on Book 1 of The Dark Sea Annals: Sword in the Stars. (Both Books Due out in 2010).

Reason I show these two is that they exemplify the benefit of having someone to bounce ideas off of: each one of us has some wisdom or experience that the other can learn. We teach each other and learn from each other. And guess what, it's also so much fun that it should be illegal. :-)


Part Three will be up in a few weeks.

Never alone.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

as an aspiring author, this was VERY helpful to me!! thanks!!

Cloe said...

Thank you very much. It is very helpful.

I wanted to tell you that my little brother,(who is 6) likes me to tell him parts of The Door Within. he really likes it when I tell him the story from the scrolls.

cson said...

Dark Sea Annals in 2010? You got to tell us about that!

The iChats are hilarious. You guys crack me up!

And thanks for all the writing tips, they're helping a lot.

The Lion Hearted said...

Looks veryyyy awesome! Thanks for the advice... not to mention sneak peaks.... ;)

Katie said...

Thanks so much for all of your advice, tips, and examples! I find it extremely helpful!

Look forward to the Curse of the Spider King!!!

Nathan Petrie said...

Wonderful! Reading through these makes me want to co-author with someone lol....but I don't really know any other writers in REAL life lol.

Keep these posts coming! I am loving it!

I happen to be one of the people who's terrible at making the huge battle scenes at the end of trilogies work. So that chat was pretty helpful believe it or not. If I may make a suggestion for another post do you think you could do one on battle scenes and how to make them work and be original? I'm a master at the slow scenes, and not bad at the one on one battles, but the big army ones...I could use help lol

Also, glad to find some more people who respect the languages of LOTR lol

Thanks for reading the long post lol!

Anonymous said...

That advice was very helpfull (as usual). I can't wait for Curse of the Spider King and Sword in the Stars (I never knew about Sword in the Stars!). I LOVE those ichat conversations and I finaly figured out that LOTR stands for
Lord
Of
The
Rings!

Galadriel said...

A town named Whitehall or White Hall...that's cool. I live near somewhere with that name!

B. D. Eastman said...

Good stuff...but if you're not published yet...

B. D. Eastman said...

What are your thoughts on Self-Publishing. A big no no or do it and see if someone picks it up?

Ellie said...

Wow. thanks so much for the advice! I'm one of those perfectionist people who has to get it right the very first time, so it was great to hear that that almost never works. Gives me an incentive to give up the habit!

Jake said...

Thank you! I can be a major perfectionist in writing.

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Free Games. Check out what I have been building lately!

Anonymous said...

what if you wanted to publish a book should you use thomas nelson

Anonymous said...

very helpful! thanku. i think someone (a christian who wouldnt skew the story or insert bad stuff)should make the door within into a movie...that would be cool.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Well...randomly commenting...let me know if I strike gold Mr. Batson

-Keeneye