Monday, December 14, 2009

first draft done!


Last night I finished the first draft of my still untitled, dogsledding YA novel. My rockin' beta reader Jackie White patiently read the entire thing. I'm slightly concerned this only took me a month. Is anyone else this obsessive once they start? I suppose all the winners of NaNo can hold up their hands. Now the real work begins - adding the brilliance.

To start with, I lay out a pile of events that I want to happen. When I write the actual scenes, my characters end up doing things I hadn't planned and it leads to more scenes. My biggest fear is getting somewhere in the middle, and have it not work like I envisioned. Such a sense of relief to know it's completed.

Does anyone have a completely different method? How about a title for a dogsledding adventure?


Anonymous said...

I'm OCD-ish about starting a novel. I write a very detailed outline, it might take weeks to do. I know exactly what's going to happen. I do divert from the outline by adding or deleting things, but not by much. I used to have problems plotting, which is why I do this.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yeah, I'm an outliner as well. But I don't make it too detailed - that way I can adjust if something doesn't turn out quite right.

And yes, if I get on a roll, I'm pretty obsessive.

And I am not the title master! "Broken Paws" came to mind, and I thought, "Well, THAT sounds depressing!" LOL
"Tundra Tails" maybe?

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I never approach a new story the same way twice. I have learned, though, that for me, I must know my characters really well before I began. From there, I ask questions about their motivations, strengths, weaknesses, secrets, and such. From this comes my major scenes. Then I start.

It's almost impossible for me not to change things along the way, which I think is exciting -- all very organic.

Anonymous said...

I try to have a simple chapter outline then as I write it I let my imagination run wild.

Wanted to mention that I liked your story, "A Sled Dog Tale" in this month's issue of Stories for Children!

Natalie said...

YAY! Good for you! I've never been a very good outliner so I don't have much to tell you. I just write and revise until I like it. :)

Tara McClendon said...

I'm a panster, so I usually write out the first draft completely before figuring out exactly how things are going to pan out. Congrats on the progress. I also left you something at my blog, so stop by.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I loved the comments on this topic! One of the reasons I began blogging is to connect with other writers, so this is great! Thank you all!

Medeia - sounds like a great way to avoid mid-book writing panic!

Diane - OH! Thank you! I can work with both of these! I'm so in love with blogging buddies right now.

Caroline - I really enjoyed reading your answer. I still have a lot to learn about writing, and find I'm more of a plot-driven writer. Focusing on characters is sage advice.

Catherine - I can't tell you how thrilling it is that you read it and told me this. Thanks so much!

Natalie - nice and simple, I like it!

Tara - Yes! I know what you mean, I think I'm developing into a panster. Glad there's a term for it. And thanks for the award!

Mindy said...

see I'm weird.. I usually have a very detailed outline and once I start writing my characters and I have many arguments to the point the entire novel changes it's course and heads in the opposite way. Drives me nuts but can't do much about it lol

Mayra Calvani said...

Dear Terri,

Thanks for leaving a comment on Pets & Their Authors and major CONGRATS on writing that first draft! That's a big accomplishment. I read once that only 10% of people who start a novel actually finish it.

Now for the editing, right?

I advice you to take a look at suspense novelist Alexandra Sokoloff's blog. She offers workshops (free articles on her blog) and she teaches plotting following the 'Three Act Structure'. I've spent a few days studying her articles. She's amazing, so be sure to check her out even if your novel is not suspense. She has a checklist of what should go on each part of a novel, so you could use this as a guide when revising your draft.

I hope you'll find it helpful. The blog is


Stephen said...

I don’t write, illustrating stories is a bit different in the posses but I usually do rough layout drawings just to give an idea on how it could flow

Janet, said...

that's amazing that you have already finished the draft for your YA novel. You must have a very imaginative mind. Congratulations, now comes the fun part.

Rena said...

Congrats on finishing your first draft, Terry Lynn!

Anonymous said...


I've never written a draft of a novel in a month, but I've written a draft of a screenplay in 10 days.

I'm a fan of writing the first draft of anything in a concentrated amount of time. I like immersing myself in the world and riding the momentum of the story, never looking behind to edit.

That said, a lot of preparation goes in before I start the draft. I do writing exercises, make lists, talk out the story to my husband or a friend, take long walks and showers (to allow the ideas to percolate).

Then I usually write out the beats of the story. If it's a screenplay, I put these beats into sequences.

I call it the "wind up" method. After I'm wound up, I let 'er rip.

I like what you said you characters doing things you hadn't planned and that leading to more scenes. That tends to happen with me, too.