Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Book by Karen Wiesner

I want to draw your attention to a new writing manual recently published by Writer’s Digest, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL, by Karen S. Wiesner. It’s a “sequel” to her FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, which I immediately came to rely on for plotting my novels. Here’s the review that will appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter:

Although this writing manual is a companion book to FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, one can work with it independently of the earlier book. FROM FIRST DRAFT... begins with a lucid summary of the method in FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS so that a writer can adopt that method and go on to integrate it with the techniques recommended in the new book. Using the metaphor of building a house from a blueprint and a solid foundation, Wiesner lays out a step-by-step plan for developing a polished novel from the "formatted outline" produced by the FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS method. She gives an abundance of examples from published novels so that the reader has no trouble grasping exactly what she means by each of her recommendations. This book introduces two very helpful concepts new to me, "story sparks" and the "punch list." It also includes a large quantity of useful checklists and worksheets. For writers like me, to whom outlining and pre-planning come naturally, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL will definitely be of great value. Many of its suggestions are bound to benefit "pantsers," too, however. If you already have FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, be sure to add this "sequel" to your collection. If not, consider buying it anyway; the new book, as I mentioned, can stand on its own. (end of review)

One of Karen’s suggestions surprised me by directly addressing a habit I often follow in writing erotic romance—leaving place-holders for erotic scenes and composing them all at once after finishing the rest of the story. My reasoning has been that this method makes it easier to avoid falling into the trap of having all the sex scenes look alike. She recommends against this practice on the grounds that writing the love scenes along with the rest of the story, in order, facilitates integrating those scenes into the flow of character development. Good point. What do you think? And how does this recommendation apply to writers who regularly write out of order and stitch the plot sequence together later in the process (something I found I couldn’t do, because I’d write the “best parts” first and then lose interest in the rest)?

Margaret L. Carter

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