As a writer I’m always interested in craft books, and I’ve been meaning to pick up this particular one for a long time. The title—First Draft in 30 Days is a bit misleading because if you follow the methods prescribed you’ll end up with a very detailed outline rather than a first draft. Ms. Wiesner does state though that because you revise the outline so much before starting to write, the end result is more like a final draft, which will require only minor polishing before submission.
The first part of the book deals with preparation and the things the writer should do during thirty days. Days 1 – 6 are for the preliminary outline and include character, setting and plot sketches and a summary outline. Days 7 – 13 are for research. Days 14 – 15 are for story evolution, internal and external conflict etc. Days 16 – 24 are for a formatted outline where research, character and setting are incorporated into the outline. Days 25 – 28 are for evaluating the outline and days 29 – 30 are to revise the outline.
The book includes a series of worksheets for each day, which are helpful. They can be handwritten or done in a computer file.
The second part of the book shows how to incorporate the 30 day method when you have a completed manuscript or a partial one that is perhaps not working. There is also a section on setting goals for projects and book promotion.
One thing Ms. Wiesner stresses is the importance of brainstorming throughout the outlining process, which is something I agree with. She says constant brainstorming during your day means you’ll never sit down in front of a computer and wonder what to write.
I’ll admit that I’ve always been a determined pantser, but after reading Ms. Wiesner’s book I think I’ll try her outlining method. I’ve decided to plan a new story while I complete my current work-in-progress. I am a little worried about sticking to a rigid plan because I’ve always thought too much planning spoiled the story for me, so it will be interesting to see how I go during the next 30 days.
The methods outlined in this book will not work for all authors, but it is definitely worth reading.
First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner is available from Amazon.
Writers: Do you read craft books? Do you have any favorites that you reach for on a regular basis?
Readers: I’m always on the lookout for book recommendations, in particular young adult stories at the moment. What are you reading this week?