The Fast and the Furious Draft

May 11, 2017

β€œFor me, one game is to announce…that I have finally decided on my next book, that I am ready to write it…to put my pride on the line.” ~ Irving Wallace, The Writing of One Novel

I have not seen the Fast and Furious movies, but after yesterday’s marathon writing session where I was completely in the zone, I felt I was writing fast and furiously. πŸ™‚

And this quote is perfect because I just did exactly that. Declared “publicly.” But I did have an incentive. My agent let me know she is pregnant and if we wanted to submit this manuscript this year, I needed to get her a draft so she had time to get comments back to me before her maternity leave. πŸ˜‰ Once motivation kicked in, I declared to my critique group that I was getting them a decent draft by the first part of June and we picked a meeting date to discuss the manuscript.

Now I’m nearly halfway through my time frame and I thought it might be helpful to others if I talked about my planning and how I’m making this happen.

How Much Time Did I Really Have?

I pulled out my calendar three weeks ago and looked at the commitments I had through June 4ish. I broke it into commitments that required preparation time and in-person time, such as classes I was teaching, sessions and speeches I had to prepare, critiques and writing consultations. Then I looked at commitments that required only in-person time—like story times for my new picture book—plus personal commitments and trips (we’re moving our youngest home from college this month!).

I had already made my announcement and my group had agreed to the meeting date before I did all this “math.” After I did the math, I felt a wee bit of panic. I wasn’t sure I literally had enough time, even if I didn’t eat or sleep!

Estimating the Work

That mini panic forced me to make decisions.Β 

  • What did I mean by “decent draft?” Based on the time I had, it had to be like NaNoWriMo. I couldn’t linger on language or find just the right word. This was about getting the story down in a coherent form. The other stuff could come later. Bye-bye, Perfectionist Denise.
  • What plot points did I still need to identify? My story was changing after the November NaNoWriMo draft so I fine-tuned each point in my plan. For example, I had three ideas for the midpoint scene and none felt right. So I re-read the notes I had taken on what can happen at the midpoint, asked myself a few key questions, and wham! There it was.
  • What else needed to happen? I have some flashbacks and a minor magical subplot, all of which need to be woven in. Egads!

This evaluation brought on another bout of panic. That is SO much work! And I have so little time. But I also saw that it gave me a plan, a way to approach the book in parts so it didn’t feel so overwhelming.

Fast and Furious Writing

My focus became (in this order): (1) main story, (2) flashbacks, (3) magical subplot.

  • May 16: Finish main story (my husband’s birthday so double celebration) – very ambitious but doable
  • May 21: Incorporate flashbacks
  • May 24: Incorporate magical subplot
  • May 25-28: Print draft, review and mark up hard copy
  • May 29-June 4: Input changes, smooth out as much as possible, including character arc
  • June 4/5: Send manuscript to group and agent

I’ll use the next few weeks to track my progress here. Thanks for being part of this ambitious yet exciting mission. I can do it!

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